Getting High: Should Marijuana Be Legal?

Suzanne Murray
21

marijuana leaf
flickr photo by ElPablo!
Medical marijuana is already legal in some states, but so far no state has made marijuana legal for recreational use. California may be the first.

A voter initiative that would make the possession and sale of marijuana legal has qualified for the November ballot. Supporters call it a "watershed moment."

"Banning marijuana outright has been a disaster, fueling a massive, increasingly brutal underground economy, wasting billions in scarce law enforcement resources and making criminals out of countless law-abiding citizens," said Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which spearheaded the initiative.

In an April 2009 poll, 56 percent of Californians said they favored making marijuana legal and taxing the sales proceeds (that's one way of bailing the state out of debt). An October 2009 Gallup poll found that 44 percent of Americans favor legalization.

California Mothers Against Drunk Driving and law enforcement groups are among the critics, pointing out that the societal damage from alcohol, including car accidents and fatalities, would increase if people were allowed to legally sell and smoke pot.

Under the initiative, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, would be legal for those 21 and older. It also would be legal to grow pot at home for personal use (in limited amounts). The sale of marijuana wouldn't be legalized outright, but cities and counties could pass laws permitting it.

Do you support the legalization of marijuana?

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