What are your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana?

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As a resident of the state of Washington, I got a chance to vote on this issue about a year ago.  I voted in favor of legalizing marijuana.  I was not completely happy to vote in this way, but I thought that, on balance, it was the right thing to...

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As a resident of the state of Washington, I got a chance to vote on this issue about a year ago.  I voted in favor of legalizing marijuana.  I was not completely happy to vote in this way, but I thought that, on balance, it was the right thing to do.  Let me discuss some of my thinking then, as well as some of what I think about the issue today.

On the one hand, I am strongly opposed to the use of drugs.  I think that people should not use marijuana.  I would be appalled if my daughters started to use it.  For this reason, I was leery of voting to legalize it.  I was worried to some degree that legalization would make it seem more acceptable to many people and that more of them would, therefore, start to use it.

On the other hand, there were many points in favor of legalization in my mind.  First, I have a very hard time distinguishing between the evils of marijuana use and the evils of alcohol use, which I also tend to oppose.  Alcohol is addictive.  Alcohol causes huge numbers of deaths every year.  I doubt that marijuana is any worse.  Second, and relatedly, I think that it does not make sense to spend a lot of money trying to prevent the sale of marijuana when it is, arguably, no worse than alcohol.  Third, I think that legalizing marijuana would make things safer for everyone.  Criminals would not be involved in the production and sale of marijuana any longer.  This would make it much less likely that people would be harmed in drug wars.  People who wanted to buy marijuana would no longer have to deal with unsavory people who might harm them.  These all seemed like compelling reasons to vote to legalize the use of this drug.

Since the vote, I have not changed my mind.  However, I have become aware of how difficult it will be to set up a system for regulating marijuana.  My wife is currently involved in writing the laws for our city on this issue.  It is a very difficult process in that it has to take into account many things.  We have to decide, for example, how close marijuana stores can be to places like schools.  We have to devise laws to regulate how much the stores can advertise their products.  In other words, we have to try to balance the goal of allowing people to use marijuana with our desire to mitigate the possible harms that can come of using the drug.  This is more complicated than I would have expected.

All in all, though, I do not regret my vote and I hope that the law will be implemented in a way that will not lead me to regret that vote in the future. 

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