More MS news articles for November 2000

War Against Marijuana Consumers

The War Against Marijuana Intensifies

Our country's war on drugs places great emphasis on arresting people for smoking marijuana. During President Clinton's administration, A total of 3,470,545 Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses. In 1997 alone, state and local law enforcement arrested 695,200 people for marijuana violations. This is almost double the number of arrests recorded in 1993, the year President Bill Clinton took office. The 1997 yearly arrest total for marijuana violations, 695,200, is the highest ever recorded by the FBI.

Of the 682,885 marijuana arrests in 1998, approximately 88% (600,938) were for simple possession. The remaining 12% (81,947) were for "sale/manufacture", an FBI category which includes marijuana grown for personal use or purely medical purposes. These new FBI statistics indicate that one marijuana smoker is arrested every 52 seconds in America. Like most Americans, people who smoke marijuana also pay taxes, support their families and work hard to make a better life for their children. Suddenly they are arrested, jailed and treated like criminals solely because of their recreational drug of choice.

This is a travesty of justice that causes enormous pain, suffering and financial hardship for millions of American families. It also engenders disrespect for the law and for the criminal justice system overall. Responsible marijuana smokers present no threat or danger to America, and there is no reason to treat them as criminals. As a society we need to find ways to discourage personal conduct of all kinds that is abusive or harmful to others. Responsible marijuana smokers are not the problem and it is time to stop arresting them.

The ultimate goal of NORML and The NORML Foundation is to end the criminal prohibition of marijuana. We do not believe otherwise law abiding citizens who smoke marijuana should be arrested and treated like criminals. Adults should be permitted to smoke marijuana in private. Federal prohibition of marijuana should be abolished and the states should be encouraged to experiment with different models of decriminalization.