We have a real problem with drug-induced death in this country. For example, on average each year, tobacco products alone kill 340,000 to 395,000 Americans. More than 125,000 people in this country die from alcohol poisoning and 14,000 to 27,000 die annually from legal prescription drug overdose. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Association, marijuana alone has killed a grand total of zero people in its entire existence. Each year, a few Americans are killed by vending machines — yet they are still legal and even allowed in our public elementary schools. How can something that kills more people than marijuana still be allowed in an area filled with children? Maybe the question should be: Why is marijuana illegal?
Medical marijuana use is becoming more common in the U.S., and this state’s legislature will vote on the issue shortly. Yet for some strange reason, widespread anxiety still remains over its legalization. Some believe that marijuana is a gateway drug — even though a 12-year University of Pittsburgh study released in December 2006 stated that “marijuana is not a gateway drug that predicts or eventually leads to substance abuse.” Some complain about marijuana’s addictive quality even though nicotine, one of the most addictive substances on the planet, is legal. Greater still, a study from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services stated in regards to marijuana addiction that “marijuana does not cause physical dependence.”
We have a substance that is not lethal, not addictive and not a gateway drug but remains illegal to use or cultivate recreationally. It is time to change this. Twelve-term congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has called for an end to the federal drug war — the same drug war that cost the United States government more than $15 billion in 2010. Even after this expense and the fact that one American is arrested every 19 seconds for a drug-related crime, 9 percent of Americans over the age of 12 have reported using illegal drugs, according to a national survey.
We have a justice system in this country that is forced to prosecute people for a crime that affects nobody but the user. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, four out of 10 murders and six out of 10 rapes go unsolved, and yet the judiciary is still focused on breaking down the doors of people who posses marijuana. The current senseless policy that has gone unchanged for 40 years needs a new direction. We can no longer afford this burden on society. Paul is the only presidential candidate proposing a new policy to change the shameful practice in this country.
Paul’s sensible drug policy allows states to legislate marijuana as they deem fit. If a state feels marijuana should be used medicinally for its ability to cut tumor growth in half, as stated in a Harvard study, or its ability to reduce head and neck cancers, as stated in a University of Minnesota study, it would be able to legislate as such without federal interference. Paul is the only sensible candidate either party has to offer on this issue. The founding fathers were quick to note the utility of the plant: It was George Washington who once stated, “make the most of the Indian hemp seed and sow it everywhere.”