Drug Legalization

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MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION The debate concerning the prohibition of marijuana has been a heated one.

Thousands of citizens, politicians, political figures, and interest groups are calling for reform. Some call for legalization, and some are calling for decriminalization. The argument is anything but a new one. What is it about this substance that people feel so passionately about? As early as around 2727 B.C., people have used marijuana either for recreational or medicinal purposes. It has been cultivated some 400 years in the U.S. and is grown on every continent today. Whatever its intended use, there is something about marijuana that people will always like: they like to get high. They will do whatever it takes to get marijuana, and if they can't, they find ways to grow it. Many people claim to be more relaxed, imaginative, and creative when they smoke. According to government figures, nearly 70 million Americans have smoked marijuana at some time in their lives (1.)

Thousands of people with various ailments such as AIDS, glaucoma, MS, paraplegia, and epilepsy claim that the use of marijuana helps to alleviate the pain that these sicknesses bring about.

Many people, including doctors, feel that marijuana has some very legitimate medicinal uses. In both California and Arizona, doctors can now prescribe marijuana to certain patients. California's Proposition 215 of 1996 "allows patients, with a doctor's recommendation, to grow, possess, and use the drug for pain relief."(2.) This doesn't exactly make marijuana legal, but patients are exempt from prosecution with a doctor's prescription. In the same year, the state of Arizona passed a similar Proposition 200. It provided that ""¦doctors may be permitted to prescribe [marijuana] to treat a disease, or to relieve the pain and suffering of seriously ill patients. (3.) These propositions would never have passed (56% and 65%,