Another election, another victory!
Not for a particular party or candidate, but for taking another step toward ending the longest, most costly, and futile war in U.S. history: the war on marijuana.
In November, six out of 10 voters in Maine said "yes" to a proposal to set up state-licensed dispensaries for doctor-prescribed medical marijuana. Maine now joins California, Colorado, New Mexico and Rhode Island as places where patients can legally and safely purchase state-grown pot for medical purposes.
This is the latest sign that the century-old demonization of marijuana has pretty much run its destructive course in our country. For most people, "reefer madness" no longer refers to the ridiculous 1936 fright movie, but to the insane cost of criminalizing a weed that does far less damage than alcohol.
Hundreds of thousands of police agents are being diverted from serious crime to the pursuit of harmless tokers, costing taxpayers more than $10 billion a year.
Every 36 seconds, someone in America is arrested on marijuana charges. More than 870,000 of those arrests are made yearly — more than for all violent crimes combined. Eighty-nine percent of marijuana arrests are for simple possession, not for producing or selling it.
Meanwhile, the weed is winning the war! Marijuana use has risen steadily, and pot is now America's No. 1 cash crop, topping the value of corn and wheat combined. As its consumption has become more mainstream, public attitudes have shifted, too.
In recent polls, 55 percent of Americans say possession of personal amounts should not be criminal, and 52 percent support treating the product the same as we do booze — legalize it, regulate it and tax it.
For more information, contact the Marijuana Policy Project: mpp.org, or 202/462-5747.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.
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