More American states on fast track to decriminalize or legalize marijuana

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: marijuana legalization, American states, drug prohibition

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(NaturalNews) Two months have passed since the states of Colorado and Washington made history by legalizing cannabis, and like dominoes, the rest of America is slowly falling in line with this burgeoning movement to end a senseless war on a plant. With Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, poised to decriminalize marijuana in a matter of weeks, and Alaska, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and many other states gearing up to fully legalize it, 2014 is looking like a big year for the advancement of individual liberty in the land of the free.

In D.C., the city council has reportedly voted to pass legislation to remove the outrageous criminal penalties associated with possession and use of marijuana. Instead of risking arrest, imprisonment, lofty fines and a permanent criminal record, individuals caught with one ounce or less of cannabis in public will instead face a $25 ticket in accordance with the reclassification of possession as a much less severe civil infraction.

Stopping short of actually legalizing marijuana, the bill, known as the Simple Possession of Small Quantities of Marijuana Decriminalization Amendment Act, represents a milder form of prohibition that still allows law enforcement to police people's personal lives. It is hardly ideal, but advocates say it is a positive step forward toward eventually putting an end to prohibition and restoring personal freedom.

On the other hand, some advocates of a full repeal to prohibition have likened decriminalization to waving the white flag of surrender. As science continues to uncover the intricacies of the human body and its cannabis-responsive endocannabinoid system, it is abundantly clear that nothing short of fully repealing prohibition everywhere is going to cut it.

"Once you have a clear picture of the relationship between cannabis and homeostasis, suddenly, decriminalization, rather than full-blown legalization becomes a deadly form of surrender, rather than a type of progress or success," writes an anonymous commenter on the blog of the cannabis advocacy group NORML.

"Schedule I status is an insult to every living being because it fails to acknowledge the power and role of the endocannabinoid system and the role it plays in human health. Imagine self-medicating with cannabis for an endogenous cannabinoid-deficiency disorder and then being forced into treatment and having your medication taken away. That's not progress."

California, Hawaii, Oregon and other western states lead in efforts to end cannabis prohibition

States in the western U.S. seem to understand this better than those in the eastern and southern regions. Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and Arizona all currently have legislation pending or ready to be introduced that will legalize the recreational sale and use of marijuana. Alaska is probably the most far along, set to become the third state in the nation to end the oppressive war on cannabis following the collection of enough signatures to put cannabis legalization on the 2014 ballot.

Similar progress is being made in California, where as many as four new legalization initiatives have been submitted, three of which were approved, for signature collection. If successful, these measures will be put up as referendums to be voted on. Other states with pro-legalization momentum include Rhode Island, Arizona, Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois, Hawaii, Florida and Maryland, among others.

"Like alcohol prohibition before it, marijuana prohibition is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police," stated NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano following the passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado and Initiative 502 in Washington.

"Alcohol prohibition fell when a sufficient number of states enacted legislation repealing the state's alcohol prohibition laws. With state police and prosecutors no longer engaging in the federal government's bidding to enforce an unpopular law, the federal government had little choice but to abandon the policy altogether."

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