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Letter: It’s senseless to continue to criminalize marijuana

Letter: It’s senseless to continue to criminalize marijuana

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Legal marijuana growing in Missouri

A strain of marijuana called Power Plant is photographed on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at the University City home of a grower who is cultivating in his basement legally for personal use. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

Regarding the editorial “Legalized pot is becoming the norm in America. Missouri should get on board.” (Dec. 20): Like the Editorial Board, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws concurs that Missouri must move toward legal marijuana consumption, regulate its sale, and educate the public. This would disrupt the illicit marijuana market, end thousands of low-level marijuana arrests and create jobs.

Legalization neither creates nor normalizes the marijuana market. This market already exists in Missouri, and it is widespread. But under a policy of prohibition, marijuana remains underground, and those involved in it largely remain unaccountable. Criminal entrepreneurs don’t pay taxes, they don’t check identification nor test the purity of their product, and their disputes are not adjudicated in court.

To date, 15 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized cannabis for adult use. Thirty-six states, including Missouri, regulate medical marijuana access. So far, none of these states has rolled back its policies because the laws are operating largely as voters intended, and the public finds it preferable to criminal prohibition.

The criminalization of marijuana financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law and disproportionately impacts young adults and communities of color. It makes no sense from a public health, fiscal or moral perspective to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate responsible adults who consume a substance that is objectively safer than either alcohol or tobacco.

Paul Armentano • Washington, D.C.

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

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