Marijuana users should not be cast out of society because they prefer manjuana to scotch, gin or bourbon. They are people from all walks of life who have used marijuana and are none the worse because of it.
—Marvin D. Miller
Legal, political, and social pressures have made it almost impossible to acknowledge publicly its non-medical virtues. In my twenty years of lecturing and writing about cannabis, I have until now never felt free to speak about this matter.
Why Make Criminals of Marijuana Users?
According to the U.S. government, 61,940,000 Americans have used marijuana at least once in their lives. That is, one in four Americans have experimented with marijuana. During the past several decades this huge multitude of smokers has consumed tons of it. Yet, it is impossible to identify a single overdose death — whether due to accident or suicide — caused primarily by this intoxicant. Thousands of overdose deaths are attributable to cocaine and heroin every year and hundreds an-nually from the use of such common milder sub-stances as Darvon, Valium, Tylenol and aspirin.
It was solid evidence such as this, amplified in scientific detail a thousandfold in the historic 1987- 88 impartial hearings that convinced the chief Drug Enforcement Administration administrative law judge (and medical experts the world over) that marijuana is one of the safest therapeutically active substances that human beings imbibe. That solid evidence is ignored, however, by the U.S. government and other governments which make marijuana users the principal targets of their massive law enforcement wars against drugs.
Whenever we point out this fact — marijuana users are the main targets of the multi-billion-dollar drug war — many sympathetic listeners simply do not believe their ears. Yet, evidence of this fact is easily available. Such evidence is found, for example, in the Bush-Bennett war plans of 1989 and 1990 that stated flatly that functional recreational drug users, rather than bottomed-out addicts, would be the principle focus of attack. The great majority of recreational drug users are peaceful, otherwise noncriminal, marijuana smokers.
On the basis of a massive disinformation campaign, marijuana was made illegal as a recreational intoxicant in 1937. There was no basis in fact for that federal prohibition law then. Today, there is still no reason to make otherwise decent and peaceful marijuana smokers into criminals.