I am in favor of legalizing marijuana–and, in fact, all drugs–and was interviewed for this piece on Vermont Public Radio about my opinion on this issue.
Would decriminalization lead to huge rates of drug abuse? I doubt it because of what happened in Portugal, where drug use was decriminalized in 2001. After that, instead of being thrown in jail, drug users were offered access to treatment and rehab. The result was that a decade later, drug abuse was cut in half. Among Portuguese teens in grades 10 through 12, lifetime prevalence rates of marijuana use decreased from 26% in 2001 to 19% in 2006. Additionally, the medical problems associated with illicit drug use–such as Hep C and HIV infections–dropped instead of increased.
By legalizing marijuana we would automatically lower the crime rates, lower rates of incarceration (which overwhelmingly affect minorities here in the US–see the documentary 13th (5 star rating by me–must see!)), and could use the tax dollars from drug sales to promote public health programs and drug awareness programs.
I have heard more than once from DEA agents and their surrogates that the war on drugs is a farce, doesn’t work and that they in full support of my call for legalizing drugs.
PS I think this is where I am supposed to say these opinions are my own and not those of any institution with which I am affiliated. Done–this is true.