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LETTER: It's time to rethink marijuana laws in this country

Friday, May 28, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

While Columbia Police Department Chief Ken Burton is to be commended for standing up and being accountable to the community in the wake of the SWAT raid that took place at 1501 Kinloch Court this past February, he — along with most of the local media — are not shining light on what is the most outrageous aspect of this incident:

Why, in this day and age, are we still lending our support to laws that allow SWAT teams to raid our homes for simply possessing or using marijuana? We have absolutely no reason to portray adults who choose to use marijuana recreationally in the privacy of their own homes as criminals. Tens of millions of individuals in this country have tried or currently enjoy using marijuana, and this will not change.

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The large majority of these individuals (along with those who prefer to relax with a glass of wine or beer) pose absolutely no threat to society. It is useless to waste the time of police and the money of taxpayers arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for the victimless “crime” of marijuana use. Have we learned nothing from the prohibition of alcohol and its repeal? Legalization and regulation of marijuana is the only path that will remove the criminal element, prevent sales to minors and allow those who choose to use marijuana responsibly from being arrested, prosecuted or, even worse, suffering a fate similar to Mr. Whitworth’s.

Marijuana is not methamphetamine, it is not cocaine and it is not heroin. It is a plant, pure and simple. It is non-toxic, cannot be taken in overdose and when used in moderation, poses absolutely no threat to your health. In a nation that trusts adults to make decisions regarding the alcohol, cigarettes and 700-calorie cheeseburgers they choose (or choose not) to consume, it is much worse than pure ignorance when the public continues to pretend, at the expense of its citizens, that using marijuana is a crime. It is pure hypocrisy.

Carter Casmaer is a medical student at MU and a Columbia resident.


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