Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana is getting widespread support. It's an attempt to curb frivolous arrests (see statewide numbers for pot arrests and convictions here).
Indeed, many feel the move doesn't go far enough. First, because plenty of people feel the "stop and frisk" policy the decriminalization is meant to simplify should just be abolished outright. And second, because more and more Americans believe marijuana should be completely legalized, regulated and taxed.
In fact, 56 percent of those polled recently by Rasmussen Reports claimed to be in favor of legalizing marijuana and treating it the same way as alcohol and cigarettes.
Drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes these drugs so valuable – while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.
History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.
We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could focus more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.
After all, until just a few months ago, this stuff was legal and being sold over the counter at your corner gas station. It's still legal in several states: