Like Alcohol in the 20s, Marijuana today faces a failing prohibition against its use, sale and cultivation. Fueled, originally, by false information and scare tactics, the U.S. Government made Marijuana illegal. Since its foundation in 1970, however, NORML, a Washington D.C. based non-profit public-interest advocacy group, has been fighting to reform marijuana laws throughout our great nation. While Marijuana prohibition is widely acknowledged to have failed, our Federal and State laws (for the most part) still punish possession, use, sale and growing extremely heavily. These laws lead to high incarceration rates, they force Marijuana users to resort to dealing with “drug dealers” who are among the most likely to expose the “MJ Buyer” to other, harder drugs (leading to the gateway theory – who would have thought, its the laws that create the gateway!), and they stifle both Marijuana and Hemp industries that have the potential to be very lucrative – not to mention a significant tax revenue stream. NORML has made it its mission to tap into the public’s increasingly Pro-Marijuana sentiments to lobby Washington to reform its Marijuana Laws.

On their website they describe their current activities as follows:

“Today NORML continues to lead the fight to reform state and federal marijuana laws, whether by voter initiative or through the elected legislatures. NORML serves as an informational resource to thenational media on marijuana-related stories, providing a perspective to offset the anti-marijuana propaganda from the government; lobbies state and federal legislators in support of reform legislation; publishes a regular newsletter; hosts, along with the NORML Foundation, an informative web site and an annual conference; and serves as the umbrella group for a national network of citizen-activists committed to ending marijuana prohibition and legalizing marijuana.”

As you can see, they are quite busy. And it seems to be paying off. With Colorado and Washington state legalizing recreational Marijuana at the state-level, and many others now considering similar measures, Marijuana laws are finally being reformed. Public opinion is also changing. While the public, once taken in by the government’s propaganda, were against legalization, a recent Gallup Poll showed greater than 50% of Americans now support the legalization of Marijuana. This is an important indicator of the strength of the movement and indicates that the spread of fact-based marijuana information has had a positive impact on people’s perceptions of the plant.

While officially focused on U.S. laws, NORML’s message has become a global movement with supports from New Zealand to Denmark – showcasing the appeal and power of the movement. Other support from this social movement comes from the reality that hemp would create a MUCH more eco-friendly “paper” and “lumber” industry as hemp grows quickly and doesn’t require the space or time “trees” need to produce similar amounts of “wood products.” Furthermore, hemp can be used in bio-fuels and many other eco-friendly ways – IF only the laws stopping such industries from existing were to be reformed.


4 responses »

  1. Lindsey F. says:

    When I think about the debate on legalizing marijuana, the biggest thing that comes to my mind is how everyone already smokes it. You can’t go to a college campus or any concert event without smelling marijuana. So to me, if you make it legal and put an age limit on it (like drinking), it could help the economy. As you stated, the government could tax hemp and marijuana and they could also use it for eco-friendly purposes. No matter what, people are still going to break the laws to use it (younger kids still will if they impose an age restriction), but why not make some money off of it and cut down the incarceration rates?

  2. Matt says:

    I agree that the amount of money wasted on petty crimes like possession and small-time dealing is harmful to the country and the population. Marijuana is so widespread and most users are harmless, I don’t really see the point. If local resources weren’t wasted on pursuing recreational smokers (and underage drinking, for that matter) we could have a much more efficient system, maybe even greater regard for police (who are virtually useless except to try and intimidate kids)? We could take models from other states to impose limits on the amount you can access (both short and long-term), and in turn decriminalize a lucrative business. This could also potentially bolster our efforts to limit the power of dangerous cartels in Mexico, and re-focus our efforts on stopping them rather than on the corner dealer selling out of his mom’s minivan.

  3. Steph P. says:

    Legalizing marijuana would save the U.S. billions of dollars due to its value as an agricultural crop, and considering how far we are in debt, I’d say it’s a pretty good idea. And honestly, marijuana is not a gateway drug and it’s not physically addicting. I do realize there are downsides. If marijuana were to be legalized, consumption of it would likely increase. Along with that would likely come health and community costs. However I agree with Lindsey in the sense that there would be more prison space for actual criminals if marijuana was legalized. I think the best way to go about this would be to regulate the amount people are allowed to have on them before they can be prosecuted (which I believe is the law now). The U.S. Constitution was written on hemp, so it’s technically unconstitutional to NOT legalize it. (just kidding jordi)

  4. wesmw says:

    In my opinion the Federal government should legalize marijuana in some western states where the populations are not as large as out east. I think that many people want it to be legalized because instead of going through legal procedures to buy it, people are instead purchasing marijuana from drug dealers which empowers criminals in our society. Also, the Federal government needs to realize that they could collect a lot of money in taxes if they legalized it.

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