Pubdate: Fri, 17 Jan 2003
Source: Daily Herald (TN)
Address: 1115 South Main Street, Columbia, TN 38401
Email:  2003 Columbia Daily Herald
Source: Columbia Daily Herald (TN)
Author: Dan Bray


LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The drug problem in Tennessee as well as nationwide 
doesn't seem to be going away although the federal government spends 
countless millions of dollars each year on theWar on Drugs.

The following information was released by a congressional committee in 
1972. March 22, 2002, marked the 30th anniversary of the release of one of 
the most ground-breaking reports in the history of American drug policy. 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, entitled "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 of 
the United States 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 increasingly agrees 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 million per year to lock up non-violent 
marijuana smokers. Although I do not personally advocate the use of any 
ilegal substances, I do take great offence to the wasting of tax dollars to 
lock up marijuana offenders. This money could be much better utilized for 
violent sex offenders and murderers.

Dan Bray,

Spring Hill
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart