Pubdate: Thu, 13 Feb 2014
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Copyright: 2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Author: John Payne


In "Back to the future: A wager on weed" (Jan. 29), James E. Fisher 
correctly urges readers to consider the moral implications of 
marijuana legalization, but I think his article gives an incomplete 
picture of the moral considerations at play.

Under cannabis prohibition, around 20,000 people are arrested for 
possession of cannabis every year in Missouri. These individuals 
often receive criminal records that impede their ability to go to 
college, rent an apartment and get a job. I find that to be immoral.

Blacks are more than 2 1/2 times more likely to be arrested for a 
cannabis offense than whites in Missouri, despite using marijuana at 
similar rates. That disparate enforcement has contributed to the 
United States incarcerating black men at a rate higher than that of 
apartheid South Africa. I find that unconscionable.

The state of Missouri has imprisoned Jeff Mizanskey of Sedalia for 
nearly 20 years for a nonviolent cannabis offense. Unless his 
sentence is commuted by the governor or state law is changed to free 
him, he will die behind bars, as he was sentenced to life without 
parole for marijuana. That is barbaric and unbefitting of a civilized society.

I could go on about how it is wrong to persecute cancer and AIDS 
patients who use medical cannabis and how cannabis prohibition has 
helped fund Mexican drug cartels, who are responsible for over 60,000 
deaths since 2006. My point, however, is a simple one: We should view 
cannabis legalization as a moral issue, because cannabis prohibition 
has shown itself to be both ineffective and evil.

John Payne

Executive director, Show-Me Cannabis
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