Pubdate: Sun, 04 Aug 2002
Source: Kingsport Times-News (TN)
Copyright: 2002 Kingsport Publishing Corporation
Note:  Will not publish letters in print editions from online users who do
not reside in print circulation area, unless they are former residents or
have some current connection to Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.
Author: J.P. Perry
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Last March 22 marked the 30th anniversary of the release of one of the most
groundbreaking reports in the history of American drug policy. Thirty years
ago, a congressionally created commission called the National Commission on
Marijuana and Drug Abuse, whose members were appointed by then-President
Richard Nixon, completed the most comprehensive review ever undertaken
regarding marijuana and public policy. Their report, "Marijuana: A Signal of
Misunderstanding,'' boldly proclaimed that "neither the marijuana user nor
the drug itself can be said to constitute a danger to public safety'' and
recommended Congress and state legislatures eliminate all penalties for the
private possession and use of marijuana and for the casual distribution of
marijuana for personal use.

Although largely ignored by President Nixon and Congress at the time, the
recommendations of the commission had a major impact on state marijuana
laws. Based on the Marijuana Commission report, 11 states decriminalized
minor marijuana offenses during the 1970s. By 1977, even the president was
convinced, as then-President Jimmy Carter, citing the Marijuana Commission,
told Congress: "Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to
the individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear
than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal
use.'' That recommendation was good public policy when it was made, and it
remains valid today. And the American public are increasingly in agreement
that we should stop arresting responsible marijuana smokers.

A December 2001 nationwide Zogby poll commissioned by the NORML Foundation
found that 61 percent of likely voters oppose arresting and jailing
marijuana smokers; only 33 percent favor current policies.

The public understands the difference between marijuana and more dangerous
drugs, and they don't want to waste $25,000 per year to lock up nonviolent
marijuana smokers. Please write or e-mail your representatives and tell them
to do their part to help implement the Marijuana Commission recommendations.
If you wish to learn the truth about marijuana visit the NORML website at It's time we stopped arresting marijuana smokers. Let's
finally bring an end to this destructive war against our own citizens.

J.P. Perry

Bristol, Tenn.
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