Friday, March 23, 2007

The 'All Out War' on Pot Smokers

From Alternet.

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It's Been an 'All Out War' on Pot Smokers for 35 Years

Since 1972, U.S. taxpayers have spent well over $20 billion enforcing criminal marijuana laws and 16.5 million people have been arrested. It's time to put an end to this waste.


Thirty-five years ago this month, a congressionally mandated commission on U.S. drug policy did something extraordinary: They told the truth about marijuana.

On March 22, 1972, the National Commission on Marihuana (sic) and Drug Abuse -- chaired by former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond P. Shafer -- recommended Congress amend federal law so that the use and possession of pot would no longer be a criminal offense. State legislatures, the commission added, should do likewise.

"[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use," concluded the commission, which included several conservative appointees of then-President Richard Nixon. "It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior, which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.

"... Therefore, the commission recommends ... [that the] possession of marihuana for personal use no longer be an offense, [and that the] casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration, no longer be an offense."

Nixon, true to his "law-and-order" roots, shelved the report -- announcing instead that when it came to weed, "We need, and I use the word 'all out war' on all fronts." For the last 35 years, that's what we've had.

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