I read this piece last year, but I think it’s worthy of being repeated. The entire piece is not only worth reading in full, it’s worth passing on to others:
Did you know that the United States of America, the Land of the Free, puts a larger portion of its population behind bars than any country on earth? Thanks in large part to the War on Drugs, Americans lock more of their own in cages than do the thuggish Russians or those “Islamofascist” Saudis. As it happens, American drug prohibition and sentencing policies hit poor black men the hardest, devastating already disadvantaged black families and communities—a tragic, mocking contrast to the achievement of Obama’s election. Militarized police departments across the nation month after month kick down the wrong doors, terrify innocent families, shoot lawful citizens, and often kill the family dog.
Marijuana is neither evil nor dangerous. Scientists have proven its medical uses. It has spared millions from anguish. But the casual pleasure marijuana has delivered is orders of magnitude greater than the pain it has assuaged, and pleasure matters too. That’s probably why Barack Obama smoked up the second and third times: because he liked it. That’s why tens of millions of Americans regularly take a puff, despite the misconceived laws meant to save us from our own wickedness.
The Atlantic Monthly’s Andrew Sullivan has been documenting on his blog the stories of typical, productive Americans—kids’ football coaches, secretaries of the PTA—who smoke marijuana because they like to smoke marijuana, but who understandably fear emerging fully from the “cannabis closet.” This is a profoundly necessary idea. If we’re to begin to roll back our stupid and deadly drug war, the stigma of responsible drug use has got to end, and marijuana is the best place to start. The super-savvy Barack Obama managed to turn a buck by coming out of the cannabis (and cocaine) closet in a bestselling memoir. That’s progress. But his admission came with the politicians’ caveat of regret. We’ll make real progress when solid, upstanding folk come out of the cannabis closet, heads held high.
So here we go. My name is Will Wilkinson. I smoke marijuana, and I like it.
Prohibition didn’t work the first time, but when has government policy failure ever kept moral busybodies from plowing ahead anyways? This time, Prohibition has cost us dearly, and still is – over $40 billion spent this year alone. There is also the human cost – every 38 seconds, an American is arrested for violating cannabis laws. Both parties are guilty of continuing this tragic and wasteful policy.
You don’t have to enjoy marijuana yourself to find this outrageous. If you ever needed proof that spending more money as a solution to failing government policy is wrongheaded, the Drug War is your baby. If you ever needed proof that making The People behave the way you want them to isn’t possible, the Drug War is your baby. And if you ever needed proof that there is policy in Washington that can be tossed in order to reduce spending, the Drug War is your baby.