COMMENTARY | In November, voters in Washington and Colorado passed measures decriminalizing recreational marijuana use. Since 1996, 18 states have passed medical marijuana laws, including Colorado and Washington. Five of those states will accept marijuana registration IDs from other states. It's time to add Pennsylvania to the growing list of states with reasonable marijuana and hemp legislation.
If a patient needs medical attention, then it should be up to that individual and his or her doctor as to what the necessary prescriptive remedy should be -- not legislators.
In Pennsylvania, just as in most other states, marijuana possession accounts for 43 percent of drug-related arrests in 2007, according to a 2009 study. These arrests are disproportionate against African-American males -- nearly six times as many African-Americans are arrested as whites. The high cost of incarceration is straining budgets and not reducing marijuana use. In fact, it is making marijuana more accessible to adolescents, who can suffer long-term effects from its use, and it's enriching drug-traffickers and drug-pushers at everyone else's expense.
The state of Pennsylvania should allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for patients that can benefit from it. Recreational marijuana should be legalized in the comfort of people's homes to anyone older than 20. This will allow the state to tax the sale of marijuana, cut out the growing costs of incarceration, and turn the negatives of the nation's drug war into a positive.
On the matter of hemp, it baffles me why it's in the same class as marijuana at all. Our nation was founded by hemp farmers, and hemp as a manufacturing product would create more jobs, increase commerce, and make products cheaper and longer lasting.
If Pennsylvania legalized marijuana, federal law would still trump state law, but if enough states take a stand against the unnecessary, costly, and unjust war on drugs, eventually the madness will come to an end, leading to a decrease in violent crime and an increase in human happiness.