Marijuana 4 - It's time we put to rest the myth that...

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It's time we put to rest the myth that smoking marijuana is a fringe or deviant activity, engaged in only by those on the margins of American society. In reality, marijuana smoking is extremely common, and marijuana is the recreational drug of choice for millions of mainstream, middle class Americans. According to the most recent NIDA data1, between 65 and 71 million Americans have smoked marijuana at some time in their lives, and 10 million are current smokers (have smoked as at least once in the last month). In fact, NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) found that 61% of all current illicit drug users report that marijuana is the only drug they have used; this figure rises to 80% if hashish (a marijuana derivative) is included. A recent national survey of voters found that 34% -- one third of the voting adults in the country -- acknowledged having smoked marijuana at some point in their lives(NIDA,1). Many successful business and professional leaders, including many state and federal elected officials from both political parties, admit they have smoked marijuana. We should begin to reflect that reality in our state and federal legislation, and stop acting as if otherwise law-abiding marijuana smokers are part of the crime problem. They are not, and it is absurd to continue to spend law enforcement resources arresting them. r Marijuana smokers in this country are no different from their non-smoking peers, except for their marijuana use. Like most Americans, they are responsible citizens who work hard, raise families, contribute to their communities, and want a safe, crime- free neighborhood in which to live. Because of our marijuana laws, these citizens face criminal arrest and imprisonment solely because they choose to smoke a marijuana cigarette when they relax, instead of drinking alcohol. They simply prefer marijuana over alcohol as their recreational drug of choice. This is a misapplication of the criminal sanction which undermines respect for the law in general and extends government into areas of our private life that are inappropriate. p The NORML (National Orginization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws) Board of Directors recently issued the following statement entitled Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use, which defines the conduct which is believe that any responsible marijuana smoker should follow. m
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m "I. ADULTS ONLY Cannabis consumption is for adults only. It is irresponsible to provide cannabis to children. t Many things and activities are suitable for young people, but others absolutely are not. Children do not drive cars, enter o into contracts, or marry, and they must not use drugs. As it is unrealistic to demand lifetime abstinence from cars, contracts and marriage, however, it is unrealistic to expect lifetime abstinence from all intoxicants, including alcohol.
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