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The Legalization of Marijuana Should marijuana be legalized Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America behind only alcohol and tobacco and has been used by nearly 80 million Americans According to government surveys some 20 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year and more than 11 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use Our public policies should reflect this reality not deny it Marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco Around 50000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning Similarly more than 400000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking By comparison marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose According to the prestigious European medical journal The Lancet The smoking of cannabis even long-term is not harmful to health It would be reasonable to judge cannabis as less of a threat than alcohol or tobacco As with alcohol consumption marijuana smoking can never be an excuse for misconduct or other improper behavior For example driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited Marijuana smoking is for adults only and is inappropriate for children There are many activities in our society that are permissible for adults but are forbidden for children such as motorcycle riding skydiving signing contracts getting married drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco However we do not condone arresting adults who responsibly engage in these activities in order to stop children from doing so Neither can we justify arresting adult marijuana smokers on the grounds of sending a message to children The expectation and hope for children and adolescents is that they grow up to be responsible and an adults obligation is to demonstrate what that means Marijuana prohibition applies to everyone including the sick and dying Of all the negative consequences of prohibition none is as tragic as the denial of medicinal cannabis to the tens of thousands of patients who
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