It's time we put to rest the myth that smoking marijuana is a fringe or deviant
activity, engaged in only by those on the margins of American society. In reality, marijuana
smoking is extremely common, and marijuana is the recreational drug of choice for
millions of mainstream, middle class Americans. According to the most recent NIDA
data1, between 65 and 71 million Americans have smoked marijuana at some time in their
lives, and 10 million are current smokers (have smoked as at least once in the last month).
In fact, NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) found that 61% of all current illicit drug
users report that marijuana is the only drug they have used; this figure rises to 80% if
hashish (a marijuana derivative) is included. A recent national survey of voters found that
34% -- one third of the voting adults in the country -- acknowledged having smoked
marijuana at some point in their lives(NIDA,1).
Many successful business and professional
leaders, including many state and federal elected officials from both political parties, admit
they have smoked marijuana. We should begin to reflect that reality in our state and
federal legislation, and stop acting as if otherwise law-abiding marijuana smokers are part
of the crime problem. They are not, and it is absurd to continue to spend law enforcement
resources arresting them.
Marijuana smokers in this country are no different from their non-smoking peers,
except for their marijuana use. Like most Americans, they are responsible citizens who
work hard, raise families, contribute to their communities, and want a safe, crime-free
neighborhood in which to live. Because of our marijuana laws, these citizens face criminal
arrest and imprisonment solely because they choose to smoke a marijuana cigarette when
they relax, instead of drinking alcohol. They simply prefer marijuana...