Marijuana prohibition has been a huge failure

In his May 5 Viewpoints article, Dr. Robert Whitney makes the common mistake of assuming that marijuana prohibition actually deters use. The truth is that punitive marijuana laws have little deterrent value; in fact, forbidden fruit appeal may increase use. Americans did not begin to smoke pot in significant numbers until our federal government declared it illegal to do so.

If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize drug cartels, prohibition is a grand success. The drug war distorts supply-and-demand dynamics so that big money grows on little trees. If the goal is to deter use, marijuana prohibition is a catastrophic failure. The United States has double the rate of marijuana use as the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal.

The criminalization of Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis has no basis in science. The war on marijuana consumers is a failed cultural inquisition, not an evidence-based public health campaign. It’s time to stop the pointless arrests and instead tax legal marijuana.

Robert Sharpe

Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy