cross posted at mLaw

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana

On the day after the day the NYT finished its internal discussions about the failures of cannabis prohibition the Grey Lady comes out as a green lady.

We at mLaw can’t disagree with the NYT’s reasons as stated and welcome this opinion maker to the world of compassionate and sensible people who abhor unequal application of the law, though it did take time to do all of that internal discussing. The NYT themselves report in their editorial that more than 600,000 US citizens were arrested as criminals in 2012 due to the war on cannabis.

We are reminded on the occasion of the grey turning green of all the years that have passed since Jimmy Carter said to the American people nearly 40 years ago in 1977:

Marijuana continues to be an emotional and controversial issue. After four decades, efforts to discourage its use with stringent laws have still not been successful. More than 45 million Americans have tried marijuana and an estimated 11 million are regular users.

Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use. We can, and should, continue to discourage the use of marijuana, but this can be done without defining the smoker as a criminal. States which have already removed criminal penalties for marijuana use, like Oregon and California, have not noted any significant increase in marijuana smoking. The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded five years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations.

Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. This decriminalization is not legalization. It means only that the Federal penalty for possession would be reduced and a person would received a fine rather than a criminal penalty. Federal penalties for trafficking would remain in force and the states would remain free to adopt whatever laws they wish concerning the marijuana smoker.

Today the grey lady becomes green and exclaims with mLaw and all who call for an end to cannabis prohibition: “The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana (cannabis),” and we go further with a call for amnesty for the victims of the war on cannabis.