Why should marijuana be legal?

Support for legalizing marijuana tended to be stronger among younger, more liberal groups, according to Gallup. Legalization received 62 approval among those aged 18 to 29, but got only 31 percent approval among those 65 and older. Liberals were twice as likely as conservatives to favor legalizing marijuana.

In a release, Gallup writes: “When Gallup first asked about legalizing marijuana, in 1969, 12 percent of Americans favored it, while 84 percent were opposed. Support remained in the mid-20s in Gallup measures from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, but has crept up since, passing 30 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 2009 before reaching the 50 percent level in this year’s Oct. 6-9 annual Crime survey.”


  • People have a basic right to make choices for themselves as long as their actions do not harm others.
    Responsible individuals in a free society should be allowed to choose whether or not they use marijuana. Individual liberty is a fundamental value.
  • The government is wasting our time and money by prohibiting marijuana. 
    Taxpayers are forced to pay billions of dollars to persecute, prosecute, and incarcerate people for having marijuana. If marijuana were legal and regulated (like alcohol and tobacco) this money, plus tax revenues from marijuana sales, could be used for other purposes such as education and health care.
  • Prohibition is not an effective solution to the problems associated with marijuana use. 
    Marijuana, like tobacco and alcohol, can be abused. But prohibition is expensive and ineffective; education and regulation are better solutions. Regulating sales of marijuana and teaching people the truth about its health effects will allow us to minimize the harms and costs to society.
  • We have learned a lesson from history. 
    Alcohol prohibition did not work, and there is no logical reason to believe that marijuana prohibition is a better idea.
  1. US House of Representatives: H.R. 5843 (“To eliminate most Federal penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use”) is a bi-partisan measure introduced by Rep. Barney Frank [D-MA] and Rep. Ronald Paul [R-TX] on April 17, 2008. This resolution would remove Federal penalties for personal possession, or non-profit transfer, of up to 100 grams of marijuana. This measure is a good first step toward legalization, but would not solve all of the problems with marijuana prohibition (state and local penalties would still exist, and this resolution would not change the fact that it is illegal to grow or import marijuana, so there would still be no legal way to obtain marijuana). H.R. 5843 will be considered by the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Energy and Commerce. If your representative is on either of those committees; please write to your House representative to show your support for this bill.
  2. US House of Representatives: H.R. 1009 (Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007) would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana, so that farmers could legally grow hemp in America. H.R. 1009 was introduced by Rep. Ron Paul [R-TX] on February 13, 2007. This measure will be considered by the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Energy and Commerce. If your representative is on either of those committees; please write to your House representative to show your support for this bill.
  3. US House of Representatives: H.R. 5842 (“To provide for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States”) was introduced in the House by Rep. Barney Frank [D-MA] on April 17, 2008 and is cosponsored by Rep. Sam Farr [D-CA], Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY], Rep. Ronald Paul [R-TX], Rep. Dana Rohrabacher [R-CA]. This bi-partisan measure would move marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule II, so that each state could decide whether to allow marijuana to be used as medicine. H.R. 5842 was referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee. If your representative is on that committee; please write to your House representative to show your support for this bill.
  4. US House of Representatives: House vote 733. On July 25, 2007 the House voted on an amendment to H.R. 3093 to prevent the Justice Department from spending money to raid cannabis clubs in states that allow medicinal use of marjuana. The amendment failed by a vote of 165-262. Still, the support for the amendment was higher than the year before and shows that a significant number of federal legislators are coming to their senses on the issue of medicinal marijuana. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY] who has been pushing for this measure for several years.
  5. U.S. Senate: S. 1082 (Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act) was passed by the Senate in May 2007. This act includes a provision (“Section 252. Medical Marijuana”) that would make state-sanctioned medicinal marijuana subject to regulation under the Food and Drug Administration. It is unclear what the effects would be if Section 252 became law. This provision does not appear in the proposed House version of the bill (H.R. 2273), which is being considered by the Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health.
  6. US House of Representatives: H.R. 4272 (Steve McWilliams Truth in Trials Act) proposed to amend the Controlled Substances Act to allow an affirmative defense for the medicinal use of marijuana. H.R. 4272 was introduced by Rep. Sam Farr [D-CA] during the 109th Congress and was referred to the Subcommittee on Health, but was never passed by the committee. There is no similar legislation currently under consideration.