August 2, 1997 marked the 60 year anniversary of a failed and devastating American public policy: marijuana prohibition. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws recognized the occasion with a new 30 page report, Still Crazy After All These Years: Marijuana Prohibition 1937-1997. This report explores in-depth the dismal failure of marijuana prohibition and the detrimental fiscal and social impact it has had on this country. Some facts from Still Crazy:
- The Clinton administration is waging a more intensive war on marijuana smokers than any other presidency in history. Marijuana arrests are up 60 percent since Clinton took office.
- Law enforcement arrests a marijuana smoker every 54 seconds in America. Over ten million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges since 1972 and police charged nearly 600,000 individuals with marijuana violations in 1995 alone. More than 85 percent of these arrests are for possession, not sale.
- Marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers at least $7.5 billion annually.
- Despite massive increases in marijuana enforcement, marijuana remains the third most popular recreational drug of choice in America. According to government figures, nearly 70 million Americans have smoked marijuana at some time in their lives. Of these, 18 million have smoked marijuana within the last year, and ten million are regular marijuana smokers.
- Marijuana offenders today may be sentenced to jail terms longer than those commonly served by violent criminals.
- Marijuana prohibition disproportionately impacts minorities. Blacks and Hispanics are over-represented both in the numbers of arrests and in the numbers of marijuana offenders incarcerated.
- Marijuana prohibition makes no exception for the medical use of marijuana. Between 1978 and 1996, 34 states passed laws recognizing marijuana's therapeutic value in the treatment of cancer, glaucoma, and other serious illnesses. Yet, states remain severely limited in their ability to implement their medical use laws because of uncompromising federal prohibition.
For further information, contact The NORML Foundation, 1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1010, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 483-8751 (voice), (202) 483-0057 (fax), [email protected], http://www.norml.org.