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Most Americans do not want to spend scarce public funds incarcerating nonviolent marijuana offenders at a cost of 23000 per year Politicians must reconsider our countrys priorities and attach more importance to combating violent crime than targeting marijuana smokers Marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers at least 75 billion annually This is an enormous waste of scarce federal dollars that should be used to target violent crime Marijuana prohibition makes no exception for the medical use of marijuana The tens of thousands of seriously ill Americans who presently use marijuana as a therapeutic agent to alleviate symptoms of cancer AIDS glaucoma or multiple sclerosis risk arrest and jail to obtain and use their medication Between 1978 and 1996 34 states passed laws recognizing marijuanas therapeutic value Most recently voters in two states -- Arizona and California -- passed laws allowing for the medical use of marijuana under a physicians supervision Yet states are severely limited in their ability to implement their medical use laws because of the federal prohibition of marijuana America tried alcohol prohibition between 1919 and 1931 but discovered that the crime and violence associated with prohibition was more damaging than the evil sought to be prohibited With tobacco America has learned over the last decade that education is the most effective way to discourage use Yet America fails to apply these lessons to marijuana policy By stubbornly defining all marijuana smoking as criminal including that which involves adults smoking in the privacy of their own homes we are wasting police and prosecutorial resources clogging courts filling costly and scarce jail and prison space and needlessly wrecking the lives and careers of genuinely good citizens Marijuana legalization
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