April 20th, in addition to being Hitler’s birthday and the start date of the tragic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is a symbolic day for the drug policy reform movement.
In the United States, the mere mention of hemp or its psychoactive cousin, cannabis sativa, brings down condemnation about “potheads” or “stoners.” What many fail to realize, however, is that over 100 million Americans have ingested marijuana for recreation or health purposes in their lifetime. Many of them are successful, otherwise law abiding members of society.
Yet this plant, which was cultivated by the Founding Fathers, has been lumped in with heroin and LSD as a schedule I narcotic. Many people think this classification was given after scientific research determined that marijuana was too dangerous for human consumption, but that’s not the case. Once again, to find the real reason marijuana is illegal, you just have to follow the money.
Despite the propaganda and political manipulation that has denied Americans the right to grow and use this versatile plant for many decades, states are finally standing up to the Federal Government. Even though the DEA refuses to acknowledge a multitude of scientific studies that confirm marijuana’s medicinal value, the states are taking action to give their citizens a safe and natural alternative to pharmaceuticals. To date, 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes, and 12 more have similar initiatives on the ballot.
In fact, more than 500 U.S. economists have called for an end to the futile “war on drugs,” saying that full legalization and regulation of marijuana would instantly bring $10-14 billion dollars of extra revenue into our economy every year. This would take a huge bite out of our federal debt, without making a single change to our taxes or slashing another school’s budget.
Momentum is building across the country to end marijuana prohibition. The most recent Gallup poll found that half of all Americans want to make marijuana legal. A diverse and growing number of leaders are fed up and speaking out. This November, Colorado and Washington voters have an historic opportunity to become the first states to legalize marijuana.