It’s high time we legalize marijuana: Jeff Macke

Jeff Macke

Over the weekend the New York Times called for the federal government to repeal its ban on marijuana. Though the more conservative among you may consider the left-leaning Times' endorsement to be damning simply given the source, that's a limited view. Legalization of marijuana on a federal basis should be a lay-up bipartisan idea. Consider the numbers:

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54% of Americans polled support legalizing pot on a federal level. That's about on par with support for gay marriage with this difference: Republicans are 25% more likely to support pot legalization than gay marriage. In fact, the majority of Republicans under 50 are in favor.

70% of Americans, regardless of party, see dope as less harmful to society than alcohol. That's important but not the right comparable. It's not just liquor that marijuana competes with. It's prescription opioids and anti-anxiety medications.

While we were busy arresting 658,000 Americans for pot possession in 2012, we were almost willfully ignoring the fact that nearly 25,000 citizens died of prescription drug overdoses the year before. The CDC says 501,000 people went to the emergency room in 2011 after OD-ing on anti-anxiety and sleep medications. Women's deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses rose 400% from 1999 to 2010. In 2012 13 U.S. States issued more than one pain killer prescription per resident.

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There are 759 legal painkillers on the market, dozens of benzo anti-anxiety medications, and rolling a joint still isn't a legal alternative in most states.  That's so obviously wrong it's almost embarrassing to say out loud in a forum where foreigners might hear me.

We're spending billions trying to prevent Americans from using a drug they want out of some ancient paternalism while we kill ourselves with pharmaceuticals. To make pot a legit source of relief for the sick, and a source of revenue instead of cost for our even sicker government, pot needs to be made legit on a federal level. Policy doesn't get more obvious than this. The tipping point has been reached. Legalize pot, Mr. President. Support the cause, Republicans. Let the voices of the people be heard.

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