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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: Will marijuana ever be truly decriminalized?

The science is pretty indisputable: Marijuana is less harmful than other intoxicating substances such as tobacco and alcohol. This is true when we look at the potential harm to an individual’s health as well as the knock-on effects to society at large; pot does not make users violent, for instance, but alcohol can make some drinkers more violent than they usually are.
Many municipalities around the world ban smoking and/or drinking in some or all public places, though these are often considered civil and not criminal matters. But nowhere is pot fully and unrestrictedly lawful on the same basis that alcohol and tobacco are (with, say, age restrictions on use, possession, and sales). Around the world we find a variety of situations with regards to marijuana possession, use, cultivation, and sales, from some regulated use for medical purposes to unofficial tolerance (which gives police and courts leeway that can lead to an unfair application of existing laws) to outright banning. Even in the Netherlands, which arguably has the most lenient policy toward cannabis, marijuana is not, strictly speaking, legal.

The barriers to decriminalizing marijuana are many, and those mostly appear to have to do with money. Last year, alcohol and law-enforcement lobbies effectively quashed a proposed law in California to fully legalize cannabis. There’s a lot of money to be made selling beer and wine to folks… and there’s a lot of money to be made in the “War on Drugs,” too.

So, given the powerful influences that would prefer to keep pot illegal:

Will marijuana ever be truly decriminalized? Do you think there are good reasons why it shouldn’t be decriminalized?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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