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Is the Destructive Drug War Being Brought to an End?

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Making positive change often seems impossible, but one area that should give people hope is the movement toward ending the war on drugs.

When I was in law school in the late 1970s, I did an internship at NORML, where one of my tasks was responding to mail from marijuana prisoners and their families. The harsh injustice of the drug war struck me then, and ever since I've been working to end the war on drugs -- a war declared by Richard Nixon.

Majorities now support the outright legalization of marijuana and oppose the war on drugs. The public has overcome decades of misinformation to justify the drug war.

The transformation struck me a few years ago when I was in a medical marijuana dispensary in California. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. At the dispensary, people lined up -- as if they were waiting for a bank teller -- in a safe place to get medical-quality marijuana. The slogan of the Harborside Health Center was "out of the darkness and into the light."

That slogan is true on many levels. Not only are people who were criminals able to come out into the light and purchase their medicine in a safe environment, but the nation is coming out of the darkness of false information. In May of 2013, the Green Shadow Cabinet recommended the Obama administration allow state marijuana legalization to go forward, eight months later Attorney General Holder did just that.

Now, the light is shining on former drug war assertions, and claims like the one that marijuana causes crime are being proven false. Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, violent crime has fallen by 6.9 percent and property crime by 11.1 percent. A 2012 study, "California Youth Crime Plunges to All-Time Low," credits a state marijuana decriminalization for plummeting arrests for all crimes. Meanwhile, an April 2014 study shows that legalization does not lead to increased adolescent use.    


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