In 1933, Congress repealed the Volstead Act, ending federal alcohol prohibition. America did not do this due to a belief that alcohol was harmless, but rather due to the recognition that prohibition caused greater harm.
Likewise, most of those working for the repeal of marijuana prohibition (including numerous law enforcement and medical professionals) do not believe that marijuana is harmless, but rather that the effects of prohibition are worse. Since 1970, over 15 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges. Meanwhile, according to the National Institutes of Drug Abuse, the percentage of 12th graders rating marijuana as “easy or fairly easy to get” has never fallen below 80 since surveys began in 1975.
Those who believe prohibition is the only way to reduce the harm resulting from marijuana use would do well to look at teen tobacco use trends. Since 1975, the percentage of teens who smoke regularly has fallen steadily from 40 percent to just under 20 percent. This was accomplished without SWAT raids, arrests or fines of adult smokers but by bans on tobacco advertising and an intensive campaign to educate teens about the harm of cigarette use.
Prohibition isn’t working, so it’s time to try regulation.
San Rafael, Calif.