It's Time to Legalize Marijuana

“Enough. It’s time to end pot prohibition. It’s time to legalize marijuana.”

In The Nation's special issue on marijuana, editor Katrina vanden Heuvel sums up the only sensible way forward in our country’s approach to a drug that our three most recent Presidents—along with almost half of all Americans—admit to using.

Despite growing support for legalization and the lack of any clear scientific evidence of marijuana's health hazards, police departments in the United States make an average of almost 700,000 arrests for marijuana per year. Prohibition has a particularly devastating effect on communities of color; there are racial disparities in pot arrests in nearly all cities and states and the eleven states with the highest disparity arrest black people at six times the rate of whites. It’s a “public health issue,” but not in the sense the Obama administration claims—it’s an issue of unnecessary violence and loss of freedom, racial injustice, and avoidable costs. 

Congress can start to change this by taking up a bill introduced by Dana Rohrabacher which would prevent the federal government from continuing to prosecute citizens who are acting in accordance with their state’s marijuana laws. Although the Department of Justice said they wouldn't stand in the way of states that decide to try marijuana legalization, this law would ensure it and would help more states and localities introduce decriminalization initiatives without fear of federal meddling.

Join The Nation in calling on Congress to begin to pave the way for nationwide legalization of marijuana.

A marijuana plant
(Reuters/Nir Elias)

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