Essay by Chris SkinnerUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, November 1996

download word file, 9 pages 4.5

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...