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Severely punishing an individual for making a choice that harms no one but himself is unfair. Exacerbating the problem is the United States’ and Canada’s current laws, which make any marijuana possession arrest appear on a criminal record. Canada is attempting to rectify this injustice by making possession of small amounts of marijuana a simple fine, similar to a traffic ticket. Even though a global consensus is forming that the individual has the choice of what to put into his body, not the state, the United States seems to prefer prosecuting, punishing and sullying the reputations of individuals who make the choice to use marijuana.

The “War on Drugs” that the United States fights is not only futile, but is also incredibly absurd. The United States government spends enormous sums of money to fight a losing battle because of Washington’s refusal to reexamine the situation. It is inconceivable to believe that giving a person a criminal record for possessing a small amount of marijuana is sensible drug policy. The ghosts of the Reagan administration are still haunting U.S. drug policy with the continuation of wasteful programs and policies fighting the exaggerated marijuana problem.

The new Canadian legislation threatens the Bush administration because of the expected increase in trafficking of marijuana across the border. Canada’s new legislation stops placing unfair punishments on users of the drug and the United States would be foolish not to follow suit. Instead of worrying about Canada, the U.S. government would benefit from revising its own marijuana policies. Marijuana is neither destroying this nation, nor are the vast majority of individual users dangerous criminals.

Canada’s proposed marijuana legislation might not be the best way of improving drug policy, but they are significantly superior to what currently exists and should serve as a model for what the United States can aspire to attain.

The money spent on prosecuting and punishing these individuals would be better spent on one of the many serious problems facing the country – marijuana use not being one of these. Vilifying marijuana and its users is by no means the best way to spend government time and effort, especially when the current aggressive policies cannot be honestly labeled as anything but ineffective over the two decades that they have been in place.

It is time for the United States government to follow the lead from our neighbors to the North and realize the ineffectiveness and, at times, the black humor of its marijuana policies.

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