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April 16th, 2009
08:00 PM ET

Vote! Should drugs be legal in the U.S.?

Do you think the United States should legalize drugs?

Mexico drug trafficking, cartels and killings. All driven by America’s addiction to drugs. How did it get this bad? All this week we are reporting on America's drug addiction in our special series "Drug Nation."

So, what do you think? Should the United States legalize drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin? Vote now!

And don't miss:

Filed under: Controversy • Drugs
soundoff (425 Responses)
  1. Xotix

    Regarding the gateway theory and marijuana.

    I saw the exact opposite effect of the gateway take place while in the military from 1992-2000. On any given weekend about 20% of the barracks population was either using cocaine, meth, LSD, or ectasy. Nobody would use marijuana cause it would stay in your system for up to 45 days while the much harder stuff only stayed in for 3 days.

    I wonder what the drug use statistics are for jobs that require frequent testing? I bet you would find (as I observed) that hard drug use is much more prevalent than marijuana use under those circumstances.

    I would like to see a current and objective study done that is very public and open to scrutiny about cannabis for medical use. It is becoming more and more apparent that cannabis is an extremely medicaly useful plant. i would like to see our government acknowledge that by removing cannabis from being schedule I.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:47 am |
  2. Dale

    What makes people think taxing the hell out of drugs is such a good idea? Part of the reason for making drugs legal is so the price will drop and addicts won't have to steal or prostitute themselves to maintain their habit. Taxing the hell out of them will only put the drugs out of reach financially, and will continue a black market to avoid the taxes.

    As for marijuana, it's not even a hard drug, there's no reason for it to be illegal today except that it was illegal yesterday. It's not addictive, it doesn't mess you up like alcohol, it has medicinal benefit, and it just makes people mellow and relaxed. Sure there are stoners who overdo it, but nobody I know is like that. Everybody I know who smokes pot is a professional of some kind or other, just smoking a little for entertainment.

    People need to get realistic about drugs and drug users, and get away from this drug war hysteria and the wrathful desire to punish. Wrath is one of one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and look what it has gotten us: a failed drug war and more prisoners per capita than any country on the planet.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:32 am |
  3. Jim

    Are you kidding me? People will not stop using drugs by legalizing it. That's ridiculous.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:30 am |
  4. Matthew

    Lets just think about this for a moment. In our current state we are spending billions of dollars a year to fight a "War on Drugs" plain and simple. So we already know that means guns are involved, it is a "war", and were spending money. Since guns don't kill "drugs" but rather people, I already found three problems: its a waste of money, it is misnamed and misleading, and it is costing numerous citizens there lives and creating "POWs" locked up in this war. That's the short form of the problem. Now why do we maintain this course legalize it and just let it be a health problem or a none problem. Let adults manage their own bodies.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:25 am |
  5. Nate

    Prohibition doesn't work, we know this, it is a fact, it isn't even disputable. Marijuana is less dangerous than every other drug known to man, safer than caffeine and asprin. It doesn't even have an LD-50. Impossible to overdose. Legalizing and regulating is the best way to keep drugs out of the hands of children and eliminate the black market that produces this violence.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:05 am |
  6. James

    The only reason we should need for legalizing drugs is liberty.

    Prohibitionist ideology is the very antithesis of what it is to be an American. And you can see it every day, this isn't America anymore, there's no liberty, only fascist tyranny and you could argue that it started with prohibition.

    Prohibition made the black market. Prohibition is the poison which corrupts our civil servants. Prohibition is the indiscriminate assassin of citizens, young and old. Prohibitionist murdered the bill of rights, our civil liberty, our way of life....

    When will freedom ring once more in this nation?

    April 13, 2009 at 11:59 pm |
  7. Chuck

    Legalize. We can not call ourselves a free people if we are not sovereigns of our own bodies. We deserve to live and die by the consequences of our decisions.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  8. Jeff Lucas

    support the Red and White, Blue Suede Shoes plan for California

    April 13, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  9. Chromium

    I live in Germany, if i want smoke marihuana, i drive to the netherlands, it is 40 miles away...

    but marijuana is not a "drug" in my eyes, cause it does´nt make people get aggressive or something. People who smoke marijuana are most quiet, peacful and balanced...
    but the other side are drugs like Heroine or cocaine, which are produced chemical. With those drugs you better not kiddin´, because they make go the crime up. People who needs hard drugs do stupid things to get them. I guess in USA ( it is a hude country, and the laws are individual for diffrent states) could the legalization of cannabis make an boost of taxes for the gouvermant, and the commercail using of cannabis would be creating new jobs...

    but the legalization od hard drugs would be finishing in a disaster: DO you want really live in a country where "drug-Zombies" begging you every morning for a needle at your door? knowledge and culture could dissapear and the costs for medical network would become huge.

    At least, i hope in USA marijuana become legalized, USA is an Role Model for Europe, not everything, but the most things we copy from you. and if USA legalize it, i guess in europe the states would be discuss the legalization...


    April 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  10. Dan

    "I think all drugs should stay illegal because it will continue to keep them off the street. If drugs were legalized, then kids would start to use them. Just look at history, prohibition worked well! I don’t remember why they stopped, but it must have been a good reason." -greggy

    The whole point to making drugs legal is to get them OFF the street and out of the hands of drug dealers. Making drugs legal will make it harder for KIDS to get there hands on drugs. I mean look at it this way, a dealer is not going to ask for I.D.

    April 13, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  11. Chance

    Prohibition didn't work in the 1920's, just as it wouldn't today. Why shouldn't it be the same for marijuana?

    April 13, 2009 at 10:04 pm |
  12. scott

    yea I do think legalization of marijuana would and could bring peace ,people that smoke bud do not steel or kill and any1 say differnt is soooo full of it..think of the big picture why dont the U.S legalize marijuana $$$$$$$$$$$ and jobs so sad arent it.

    April 13, 2009 at 9:55 pm |
  13. Jay

    I go to one of the best engineering schools in Canada.....Alot of people seem to trust me and therefore speak openly in front of me... It seems like most people at my school smoke marijuana..

    I believe marijuana is the best mind altering drug out there because if taken in proper doses, it does not alter your mind but rather just relaxes you... Even when people smoke too much all it generally does is make people dreamy.... Taken in the right proportions marijuana can be used to make you more effective at tasks.... Ask CNN founder Ted Turner about that.... Ask Bill Gates about that.... etc....

    I don't support the legalization of some other drugs because some of them can make you puke your guts up, and some of them are physically addictive... I believe in safe injection sites......However we cannot allow harmful drugs to get in the hands of children...For example, I am not in favour of crack cocaine....

    I think legalizing marijuana alone could do the trick...But I am open to the suggestions of others who have taken other drugs.....George Carlin said marijuana is the only one that leaves you alone........

    I think over hundreds of years if marijuana were legalized, alcohol would eventually die out... I don't think owners of alcohol industries are immediately in danger of losing business however.... I don't think there is anything stopping marijuana other than inertia....

    April 13, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  14. / Dean Summers

    Hemp Seed could feed the earth's starving humans.All of them in a years can you be against that? Dean

    April 13, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
  15. Diane

    Eric, It's pretty hard to take you seriously in any argument to legalize marijuana when you can't even spell "felony" to make your point. Maybe you should stick with reading, writing and 'rithmetic and lay off the blunts.

    P.S. No harm intended, but you knew "sharing a blunt" was not legal but you consciously decided to do it anyway. That's why you're facing a felony. There are a lot more important things in life to fight for than the legal allowance to get high. People are dying and suffering because of true injustices in this world. If you think not being legally allowed to smoke weed is one of them, you need to start contemplating the purpose of life.

    April 13, 2009 at 9:25 pm |
  16. Johnny

    Sure.. make all illegal drugs legal.. then we will have criminals on drugs all over this country, walking around your city, high on dope, breaking into your homes, robbing, stealing, killing.. getting the pic in your head? Lets all let kids be on drugs too while we are at all.. we can be called the United States of Drug Addicts..

    April 13, 2009 at 8:16 pm |
  17. Eric

    92% of americans are atleast for the legalization of marijuana which would help me out alot. I'm a 17 year from South Carolina who is facing a fellony for sharing a blunt with my friends after school. Doesn't sound very just to me.

    April 13, 2009 at 7:55 pm |
  18. mike slc

    drugs are already in the hands of kids. when I was a teen drugs were much easier to get than alcohol even tobacco. and why was that?
    Alcohol and tobacco where/are regulated. Im sure things are much the same now as in the 70s and 80s.
    Does it not make more sense to regulate the drugs in our country and have some kind of control over them or spend billions of dollars fighting a fight we can not and are not winning. we are making billionaires out of criminals who will do whatever it takes to get the drugs in our country and kill anyone who gets in the way.
    The American people are going to buy/get their drugs no matter what legal or not.
    Lets use the revenue from the sales to educate and for rehab. instead of tax dollars to fight a war we will never win. and stop putting none violent offenders in prison which also costs billions to house...
    Just makes sense to me......................

    April 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  19. KUSH


    April 13, 2009 at 7:25 pm |
  20. KUSH


    April 13, 2009 at 7:24 pm |
  21. Maurkov

    "History shows that everytime a mind altering substance is legalized, its use becomes normnalized and usage and rates of addiction go up dramaically, especially with youth."

    [citation needed]

    April 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  22. Dustin

    Drugs are illegal for outdated political reasons. Most were outlawed for racial reasons, and continue to be illegal because there is so much momentum for the "war on drugs" most people are ignorant and scared of what might happen if all drugs were legal. But the evidence says that not much bad would happen.

    If drugs are illegal because they are "bad for you" then why is alcohol and tobacco legal while much less dangerous drugs like Marijuana illegal?

    Unprocessed Coca (the plant) and Opium (Poppy) are mild and benign as well. One of the main problems that occur with drugs is when they are synthesized or altered artificially and things like Cocaine or Heroin are made from natural and fairly safe plants. Synthetic painkillers are prescribed by the millions each year and millions of Americans are addicted to painkillers and other synthetic "fix me ups" which are much more dangerous than their natural predecessors, but guess which is legal and which isn't?

    LSD, most here would consider it the hardest of all dangerous drugs, isn't known to have directly killed anyone...ever. A few people have died here and there from accidents related to it, but nothing even comparing to the number who have died directly or indirectly from Alcohol!

    Things to think about.

    April 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm |
  23. Eric

    jackie Q said "The reason the drugs are illeagal is because they are bad for you"

    Actually they are illegal because it would make white women seek relations with black men, it would make black men look at white women twice. This is why they are illegal, not because they are bad. Fast food, nicotine, alcohol are all bad too so why are those legal?

    April 13, 2009 at 5:49 pm |
  24. J sub D

    Heroin costs less than a six pack. Thousand dead as the bootleggers fight over turf in Mexico. Cops in the US corrupted by the easy money. Overdoses aren't even news.

    John Walters (former head of ONDCP says we're winning the War on Drugs. Calling it the War on Reality, Youth, Minorities, Liberty or Sanity would be far more truthful.

    April 13, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  25. Alan9074

    Yes, absolutely. The laws are Unconstitutional in the first place (alcohol prohibition required the 18th Constitutional Amendment but apparently there is a "drug exception" for other drugs?)

    On this basis alone, it's completely justified to repeal these insane laws which do nothing but breed a subculture of violence, corruption of law-enforcement, and maintain the fiction that good intentions outweigh common sense.

    April 13, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  26. Mark

    Legalize it all. Why do we spend billions to fight the "war on drugs", when all we are doing is making billionaries out of criminals who learn how to infliltrate our borders. The only people we catch and inprison are low level operatives for the cartels.
    The only way to stop them is to take away the profit. Legalization does that ! They aren't selling drugs because they think it's great to get high, they are in it for the profit alone.
    In addition, spend the money we are now spending to catch people on treatment and education.
    Mark in Texas

    April 13, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  27. Jackie Q

    OK, if we leagalize it the kids will die leagally? Hmmm. The reason the drugs are illeagal is because they are bad for you. They turn your brain to mush. My sister used to own her own home, had a great job and then she discovered drugs. Now drugs are the ONLY thing she cares about. She is homeless and on the run from the law. Yes, lets leagalize drugs so everyone will lose their freeking minds...genius!

    April 13, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  28. Deborah AKA The Vocal Citizen

    I've been saying for YEARS:

    We should legalize ALL drugs and put them under the regulation and control of the federal government, allowing those addicted to the hard drugs to get prescriptions for their "stash". This way, our health care system can identify those who need interventions and we can responsibly control the purity and potency of the drugs.

    Cannabis should be legalized, regulated, and taxed like alcohol. This non-fatal plant is created by nature, unmarred by man, and is no more harmful (less so, actually) than tobacco or alcohol. The marijuana plant was made illegal and thus vilified by our federal government because it represented fierce competition when Mr. DuPont invented plastic. Look into its history.

    For thousands of years, mankind has used cannabis and its derivatives for fuel, food, textiles, medicine, recreation, and religion. It is long past time to revoke the prohibition against it. History has proven that prohibition only creates a criminal market for the substance in question.

    Our government knows this, but our elected officials are terrified to support legalized cannabis because they believe it's political suicide to do so. This is why President Obama said one thing during the campaign and now laughs off the subject.

    The time for hypocrisy is over. In an era where we bail out irresponsible banks and industries to the tune of a TRILLION taxpayer dollars, it is incumbent upon We the Taxpayer to demand more sensible drug policies in this country, protecting our children through regulation and protecting our borders through the legitimization of a very real and profitable industry.

    April 13, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  29. barryj

    History shows that everytime a mind altering substance is legalized, its use becomes normnalized and usage and rates of addiction go up dramaically, especially with youth.

    You think we are loosing the war on drugs, illegal drug use by teens is down BUT now legal pharmaceutical drug use among teens is up, that tells us we should keep them illegal.

    Its no surprise the cost to society of the two legal substances, alcohol and tobacco, is more than all the illegal drugs combined.

    Ya its easy to say we lost the war on drugs, because it is something that is impossible to win totally due to humna nature but toi lose it is to give up throw in the towel and legalize everything...than you will see how bad things can get.

    And there will still be a huge illegal drug market for the underage, for those that need credit to buy drugs, for those too high to be served in a drug store, just like they can't serve severe drunks in a liqour store now, they won't be able to serve those cracked or methed right out, for them the dealer will be legalize drugs, history shows addiction rates skyrocket and you still have the black market, history also shows gangs will just start human trafiiking, loansharking, kidnapping..whatever to make cash...drugs are just a commodity, it goes they find something else...wake up, legalize drugs and then try to make them illegal again, then you will have what happened in Prohibition again, all the legalizers talk abour Prohibition..what do they expect would happen when you take something that is a right and freedom, used by millions and ban it, of course there would be the insane gang was predictable.

    Just as predictable, legalize drugs and watch society slide right off a slippery slope, people will be using coke and heroin like booze and people on booze cost America billlions upon billions of wasted dollars

    April 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  30. Ric

    That way we can be just like Somalia, the envy of the world I'm sure.

    April 13, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  31. paul

    I don't advocate using hard drugs but people that do need help.....they don't need to be put in jail....anyone commiting a crime to support their habit however should go to jail.....there is a big difference in my humble opinion!

    and lets just legalize pot...... nothin wrong with a little hooch!

    April 13, 2009 at 3:59 pm |
  32. Jesse

    I think all drugs should be legal. Let natural selection take care of itself. How much money are we wasting trying to put people in jail for this, and then how much more is it to keep them there? We're wasting space that could be reserved for REAL criminals.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  33. Adam

    It is my educated opinion, that persuades me to believe that all natural unsynthesized drugs, that aren't detrimental to ones health should be made legal. Examples of which, would be marijuana, mushrooms(Psilocybin), and peyote. While on the other hand, drugs like heroin or cocaine should remain illegal. Though you may ask isn't cocaine natural, it comes from the coco bean, but it is a man made drug that has to be sythesized or exstracted from the bean making it man made. All of the man made drugs in one way or the other have detrimental affects on the human body and mind.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  34. Matthew Sobel

    As you can see on my myspace I like to smoke weed and I'm an actor and respected religious figure. Legalize it so we can have happier Saturdays. Shalom

    April 13, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  35. Ted

    Greggory did you even read the story. The young girl died BECAUSE she had access to drugs. If drugs were legalized and CONTROLLED she would not have been able to gain access. Ask any teenager which is easier to obtain, alcohol, tobacco or drugs and you will have your answer. The strange thing is that even the parents for a drug free America are sponsored by the alcohol, tobacco and big pharma lobby. Can anyone else see the irony?

    April 13, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  36. Pouwel

    If the Government wants the violence to stop they need to take over all of the sale and distribution of anything that is deemed illegal. That is the only way that the government can keep organized crime, of any kind(mafia,cartels, Street Gangs etc), out.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  37. Nathaniel

    I am a firm believer that drugs should be legalized. Our tax dollars should go to funding more important problems. Besides, we are going to be suffering an overpopulation problem soon. It will just allow the idiots who will never give back to society the chance to overdose, thus being one less mouth to feed.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  38. Charles

    I do not agree with either extreme of the problem. I am against a full legalization of drugs for two reasons. One, if you try to control them with taxes, you simply open up black markets and smuggling runs because of them–think moonshine. Two, there ARE some drugs that are simply too dangerous to be on the street, because they can be overdosed too easily or because they invariably result in dangerous behavior. This is not a morale issue but a safety issue and is therefore valid to control. OTOH, full outlawing would simply mean prohibition all over again. Many people would sooner go to war with their country than go to war over drugs, simply because if they didn't have SOMETHING that helped get the edge off their day (and nothing else will work), they'd go nuts. Perhaps what's needed best is a revision of the drug schedules, with full public scrutiny and independent (from Congress) input, so that controlled drugs are categorized properly. As for the prison problem, part of the problem is that it's hard to tell a user from a pusher. Someone who has a few joints could be smoking or selling, and it's impossible to tell at that point, and laws err on the side of caution because of the risk to children, which is almost considered as hazardous as threats to national security. It's a dilemma. How do you get pushers off the street and not sweep up mere users in the process?

    April 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  39. Daniel Cohen

    I am a lawyer, and drugs should not be legal, because otherwise I won't have a job!!!!!!

    April 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  40. Scott

    The thing that gets me about it is that the whole idea of prohibition is that whatever is prohibited is "difficult to get". Nothing could be further from the truth. That's why it's easier for a kid to get marijuana than a six pack of beer. Drug dealers don't card their customers!

    Prohibition forces everything underground where there are no rules. I simply cannot understand why people against legalization don't understand how dangerous that is. Violence and prohibition go hand in hand.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  41. Ben

    Legalize it. Then you will be able to enforce a quality control, so people who get heroin and the like will know EXACTLY what they are buying. That would give you an idea of how much is too much.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  42. Capt. Spastic

    There are good drugs, and there are bad drugs. The one thing we SHOULD have learned by now, particualrly since the 1920's. is that Prohibition DOES NOT WORK.

    Never has, never will.

    At least legalized you have more and better control over who has access, than when it's a commodity on a black market.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  43. stop the madness

    Let’s legalize drug use by having our government produce a drug that can directly compete with the junk that destroys so many lives and costs so much to battle. By legalizing drugs we can sponsor education and rehab programs to curtail the need to escape reality. We teach math, English and sports to our kids. Why can we teach them to deal with their emotions and self esteem which is at the heart of most drug addiction? Teach people to deal with reality, depression, confront their problems, and give them hope.

    There will always be lost souls, the criminal, the mentally ill, whose dependence on mind altering drugs is inescapable. For them the answer is prison, strict monitoring by government agencies, and drugs.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  44. Travis

    I'm so tired of otherwise well meaning people who murder going to jail. LEGALIZE MURDER! Do you guys not see the stupidity in your argument? Just because something is difficult to fight doesn't mean that we should legalize it so it's not a problem. Do you have no moral compass? In case you're wondering how legalizing murder and heroin are connected, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how deadly both are.

    If you seriously think the reason kids and others OD is because of the "mystique" of the drug caused by illegality you are flat out wrong. Here's a novel idea: Heroin is addicting, easily deadly, and it ruins people's lives faster than any other addiction. I suggest you watch the movie "Requiem for a Dream" That might give you a good picture of the darkness.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  45. Jeff malone

    I live in logan ohio hocking county, Heroin has reached epidemic levels in my county. Elementary schools have reported that 10 and 11 year olds have been caught in possession of this illegal drug. The time for the U.S. to enforce border security against narcottic traffic has come. I would even go as to the point of posting the military to protect our northern and southern borders. I have also become aware of how some of the illegal drugs are coming into the U.S.. Overseas containers pass by customs inspections, only a small fraction of these containers are visually inspected. machines and drug dogs are used to inspect the outside of these containers. the percentage of containers inspected also is very small. most drug shipments from mexico are done via the railroad system. there are no measures taken to inspect the containers coming into the country via the railroad.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  46. Cait

    The "War on Drugs" does not work, nor has it ever worked. We should've learned that prohibition does not work after the prohibition of alcohol. The "War on Drugs" only pushes drugs underground, creating a mystic to them. If people were fully aware of the pros and cons of the various drugs, drug use in America would change. Because we are currently "withholding" drugs, people want them more. Also by making all "street" drugs illegal we have begun to create new drugs (i.e., crystal meth) which happen to be even more potent and worse for the body than the more natural drugs (i.e., cocaine, marijuana).

    There has also been an influx in the abuse of prescription medications, most notably opioid painkillers. People assume that because this medication was prescribed to me by a medical doctor, who wouldn't give me anything harmful, that the drugs are safe. WRONG!!!!!!! For a lot of the prescription drugs that exist, researchers and doctors do not really know how they work, causing a myriad of side effects and drug interactions. Opioid painkillers are highly addictive substances that are extremely easy to overdose on, yet because they were prescribed by a person who has been specially trained in medicine, we trust them and don't think much of it.

    If we really want to help the drug culture in America, the best way is to develop tolerance towards the drugs and educate the population about drugs–both positives and negatives of the drugs. Our drug policy should be based on scientific fact and evidence, societal risk, the lethality of the substance, and potential medicinal benefits. If we continue at the rate we are going with the "War on Drugs," our prisons will stay over populated with non-violent drug offenders, people will have the wrong information about what effect drugs have on people and society, and we will continue to look like an idiotic nation who has little regard for it's citizens, despite being built on the premise of freedom.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  47. kelly

    so how many votes does it take till any of these choices show up as more than "0%"???

    im sure more than enough people have voted on here for it to change. One vote should make it change. What the hell CNN.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  48. Röstig

    only mary jane

    April 13, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  49. Keith

    Greggy – Prohibition did not work well. Its main effect was to drive drinking underground, into organized crime owned "speak easies." Have you ever heard of Al Capone? He was the most notorious gangster in American history, and he built his entire crime network on the black market sale of alcohol during prohibition. Prohibition was repealed because it manifestly did not work to prevent alcohol consumption, cost the government huge sums of money in enforcement and equally huge sums of money in lost alcohol taxes, while allowing the mafia and other organized crime cartels, much like the Mexican drug cartels of our day, to get rich off of bootlegging and racketeering backed by widespread murder and violence.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  50. ViviMack


    What should the question be?

    This is a huge issue on many fronts for this country.

    What would you like to answer?

    April 13, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  51. ViviMack

    I love you American Anon!

    right on! People, take the time to read his long entry!

    April 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  52. Sam

    Drugs that are made with chemicals should not be legal because they are too addictive and dangerous. They really need to crack down more on illegal drugs that are made with chemicals because it only takes the slightest mistake to make a bad batch of drugs and kill everyone that takes them. If you can overdose on a drug then it should have to be given by a doctor because there is no reason to basically be giving people a loaded gun and telling them to use it wisely.
    Marijuana on the other hand should be legalized and taxed. People give marijuana a bad rap saying that, "it is a gateway drug" that is bolgna. The biggest gateway drug in this country without a doubt is alchol. People make a lot more dumb decisions when drinking alchol then doing anything else. Marijuana is natural and is not going to kill you, so I say legalize it.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  53. Snoop

    Legalize Pot! Tired of seeing cops wasting their time and getting killed over a plant! Other manufactured drugs are doing more harm, especially alcohol the worst legal drug of all!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  54. ViviMack

    Henry, you must be very innocent.

    Legalize it! MJ first and foremost. Alcohol is a more dangerous drug than MJ. I'm not sure about the crystal meth etc. First start with the natural stuff. The money saved and earned will be huge. Our jails will be free from people who are caught with a joint. their lives won't be ruined. Mexican drug lords will have to find another business. The money saved and earned can be used to find much more dangerous drugs or the houses that manufacture these hardcore life ruining drugs. MJ, been around since the mountains were formed. Let it be legal!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  55. james

    This is an extraordinarily stupid question, even for CNN.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:51 pm |
  56. Kyle

    This "Drug War" Shouldnt be called a war.
    There is one thing about war that makes it not apply to this situation:


    April 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  57. Chris

    People forget, or never knew, the origins of the war on marijuana. It was originally made illegal as a deterrent against Mexican immigrants, since they were the main users back in the 20's & 30's. Then the government had no laws against growing it, but you needed a federal tax stamp for it, which they didnt make – making it illegal by default. Then the government waged a propoganda war on par with Nazi Germany, brainwashing people into believing falsehoods about it. Now it's pure economics – keeping it illegal keeps jobs in law enforcement, prison guards, and prison communities. Plus, its a weed and can be grown damn near anywhere without Uncle Sam getting a cut. So it's gone from a racist law, through the propoganda mill, and is now the basis of an entire economic model. The government will never legalize it, there's too much money at stake.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  58. norage

    No one is asking why America needs so many chemicals. The material success that we have acheived beyond any possible need makes kids bored and ignored, and the marketing and R&D people at video and media companies are right there to fill the need. Them and the pushers... WAKE UP !

    April 13, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  59. Mat

    This page sucks. I voted, and the results say 0% for everything. It took me 5 tries to get the stupid java to act right.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  60. Marc

    How can we ever expect to keep drugs out of a country when we can't even keep it out of prisons! If you can bring in illicit drugs in jail, surrounded by walls, armed guards and very close scrutiny, how can we think we can keep it out an entire continent?

    Make it like booze, legal age with ID, taxes the crap out of it and use the billions to educate and better society.

    People will always want it and get it. Question is, who reaps the benefits, criminals or us?

    April 13, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  61. chipper Zettler

    If we really wanted to wipe out the illegal drugs we could but that might cause alot of people to loose JOBS and justify wasting money. ????????
    What really is the concern? illegal drugs or JOBS dealing with Drugs hows making more money

    April 13, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  62. chipper Zettler

    Look, if we went after where the drugs are made or the initial source of where Drugs are coming from then there would be an extreemly minimal amount on the streets if any. We keep arresting the addicts on the streets and creating programs to get them off of drugs but when there out back on the streets wala there are the same drugs again. If we use all of our drug enforcement assets to get the big guy then we would be just about problem free and we wouldnt need all this program $ spent

    April 13, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  63. John

    Treat drug dependence/addiction as a disease. Provide care, compassion, medical drugs or alternatives as needed with rehabilitation. Educate our children early and often. Stop the drug associated business/violence and markedly decrease the deaths and the costs associated with this disease. As it currently functions, the war on drugs is an absolute failure from all points of view.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  64. Stephen Weiss

    Make just marijuana legal. Suddenly the flow of cash to drug dealers of all stripes will diminish dramatically. Marijuana constitutes probably the largest item they sell. Everything else can still be illegal, and should be (as the experience in the netherlands has shown), and just taking marijuana out of their hands alone will remove the profit motive for so many drug dealers that their number will shrink overnight. Far less people use cocaine or heroin or speed – it's marijuana that's so popular, and it's also the least dangerous by far.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  65. Joe Jeffrey

    Of course drugs should be legalized. The greatest thing that ever happened to organized crime in America was Prohibition - until the damfool War on Drugs. Besides the immorality of the ban on drugs - I have no right to use the power of the government to keep you from putting what you feel like in your body, the incontrovertible fact is that it just is not practical. And just as with Prohibition, the only effects are to put immense, unbelievable, amounts of money and power in the hands of some of the worst people on the planet, and jail millions who have harmed no one except, in some cases, themselves. Legalize them and tax them, like alcohol and cigarettes.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  66. william

    The more we resist, the more problems become rampant.
    Normalize what is already normalize, and the risk associations
    will not longer be necessary.
    So sure, legalize marijuana,
    keep other, significantly more damaging drugs illegal

    but all of this is meaningless anyway,
    it doesn't touch the core issue involved in all of america's problems:

    April 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  67. failedwarondrugs

    It's a tricky situation where as legalizing drugs would eliminate the underground drug cartels or greatly reduce their illegal activities. However, legalizing drugs would also eliminate thousands of U.S. jobs.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  68. IJ

    Drug addiction is most likely genetic – most people try them; few ever get addicted. Legalize drugs and get help for people who use them because prohibition has yet to mitigate the supply.

    FYI – alcohol and cigarettes kill more people than drugs in this country.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  69. American Anon

    Firstly, I am glad CNN added a "legalize marijuna only" option.

    Legalizing the relatively safe substance of marijuana is often bogged down by people pointing to it being a "gateway drug" or people assuming lagalizing the relatively safe substance of marijuana means you want to have ALL drugs legalized.

    In terms of "the gateway drug," this can be a half-truth. Sure, a lot of kids, adults, and people in general will try pot, and then move on to something bigger. However, have we forgotten that it is extremely rare for a marijuana user to pick marijuana up out of no where? Come on now, what is the gateway drug to marijuana use? Simple, alcohol and/or tobacco. Many people would not use marijuana at all had they not tried a socially and legally acceptable drug like tobacco and alcohol.

    Now we move to vague comparisons of the effects, both short term, and long term of marijuana as compared to the legal drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and common pharmaceuticals.

    Tobacco can be shown to cause a wide variety of psychosis (a common argument against weed.) As well as strong lung damage, heart damage, and even kidney damage (from the release of adrenaline). It is possible, though hard, to overdose on smoking too much tobacco. Even more dangerous, should a child accidently ingest a small amount of some tobacco, there is the risk of death. Tobacco smokers can be rightly noted for their irritability should they even go a few casual hours without a smoke.

    Alcohol, why this is legal and marijuana is not, I might never comprehend. Well, let's start with the obvious. It is EXTREMELY easy to overdose on alcohol. Don't forget the much more severe impariment the alcohol high causes as well. Not only does it severely disrupt motor skills and mechanical skill, but it can also cause a pretty calm person, and make them do something stupid, or far more likely, become angered quickly over something menial. Don't forget the hangover and/or potential next morning sickness. The long term effects are stunningly brutal. For one, unlike THC (the chemical in marijuana that produces the high) which targets only certain receptors in the brain, alcohol works in a "blanket effect." This causes widespread depression of almost all areas of the brain. Thus mental health as well as physical health for an alcohol addict compared to a marijuana addict is significantly increased, with a wider range of problems that could go wrong. Your liver will take extensive damage, along with the kidneys, the stomache, and your esophagus (if you puke, which at one point, you will.) Also, do not forget that the accidental mixing of alcohol with a wide range of legal (most notably, asprin) and illegal drugs is likely to kill you as well. I could probably write a larger diatribe on the destructiveness of alcohol compared to marijuana, but I shall spare you.

    Pharmaceuticals! Ah yes, probably the #1 reason why marijuana remains illegal. First off, think of all the money the pharaceutical companies would lose if people could grow far more effective and safer painkillers than to buy them! Now realize that the pharmaceutical lobby is the biggest in Washington.

    With that said, let's examine some common household over the counter pharaceuticals. (Prescriptions will not be counted, as they are regulated, though almost every single prescription is detrimentally more harmful than marijuana.)

    Asprin- Ah yes, a favorite of teen suicide, last time I checked it was impossible to overdose on marijuana. However, it is quite simple (though painful) to overdose on asprin. Even if you do not overdose on the asprin. Long term use (for say arthritis or other pain management) is almost guaranteed to cause some wicked liver and kidney problems. And though it can save you from a heart attack if taken at the right moment, using asprin quite a bit might be setting you up for that heart attack

    Cough Syrup- Another Over the Counter that you can overdose on (moreso from the asprin contained in it than from the actual Dextromethorphan, though you can OD on this as well.) This is a favorite of younger highschool kids due to it's relative ease to obtain. The short term effects can cause anything from a drunk-like state to full out hallucinations. Neither of which you get with marijuana (unless you have never tried it and watch one too many Stoner Comedies.) Long term effects can be severe liver damage, kidney damage, as well as damage to one's psyche and brain. Also, od enough as it is, marijuana can help you with that cough without causing so much harm to you. Ingested or smoked briefly, your cough will help be supressed a bit, you will sleep easier, and it will reduce some of that pain for you so that you don't have to mix cough syrup with asprin, and accidently kill yourself.

    Benadryl (diphenhydramine)- I know what you're thinking. Benadryl is a drug wrose than pot? Well, I jest you not friends. used mostly for its antihistamine properties, and aiding people with allergies, a stunning amount is also a common recreational drug in highschools and middleschools. The diphenhydramine acts as a hypnotic and sedative, and so is sometimes used as a minor sleeping aid. As with all sleeping aids, mixture with alcohol or taking too much will kill you pretty easily, again as stated before, unlike pot, which you CANNOT overdose on by mixture or over-consumption. In the short term, expect just ONE benadryl to get you woozy enough to impair your driving ability. Even if you do not overdose, taking even just two or three of these at once will have you vomitting horribly. Do them habitually (long term), and you'll royally mess your brain chemistry up, and probably suffer from a short bout of depression once you refrain from use. Your kidneys and liver, as with all pharmaceuticals will be junked up. Also, it should be noted that long term use of this pill will also, ironically, seriously impair your lung's ability.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm |
  70. oxbobend

    To eliminate criminal activity you must eliminate the profit motive.
    God fobid we give capitalism a back seat and take a bold move to eliminate the criminal element. Very simple, make it so cheap that there will be no profit margin. The junkies who can't resist will OD and we can move on without their poor souls. Let's stop trying so hard to protect ourselves from our selves.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  71. Jack

    Having lived in Europe when all drugs were legal in the Netherlands I am difinately against their legalization. Switzerland is still fighting the effects of their legal hard drug trade. Over 34 million Americans use drugs and over 2 million are hard addicted drug users. Though less than 12% of our population causes hundreds of billions of dollars in damages not to include the fatal ODs. Legalizing it will merely make it more accessible, make it more socially acceptable, and will raise the number of addicted to unmanagable numbers. The Netherlands outlawed hard drugs in 1990 when they realized that they had lost a signficant population of two generations. While there (stationed with the military) I saw countless young dependents become addicted. I dread the idea of legalized herion, cocaine, or prescripiton drugs. If you think legalization will keep it out of kids hands you are terribly wrong, we will lose several generations of youth if it is legalized. The only way to combat drug use is to take away the demand. Right now with the Hollywood elite allowed to use the drugs and never being held accountable and the well to do white collar crowd tolerating it we will never win the war. Arresting the poor and destitute that are targeted by the drug dealers will not change a thing. Stop a few well to do figures, hit the much publized entertainment crowd (to include professional sports) and you might make an impact.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  72. Doug

    greggy ... " prohibition worked well! I don’t remember why they stopped, but it must have been a good reason"

    You're kidding right? How did it work well? It created a black market for alcohol and spawned all kinds of violence on the street ... just like what we see today for drugs. I'm interested in how you think prohibition worked well!

    April 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  73. John Z

    Legalize Pot, tax it, remove all people in jail for pot crimes not involving any injury to another person, between the taxes generated, the jails emptied, and the amount of police time spent on enforcment, we can fairly quickly regain a hold on the finances.
    Still spend $ on enforcing chemical drug laws, and on trafficers, you might even think about removing the alchohol in beer and replacing it with THC.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  74. shane

    i agree with the pro Mjs, if u tax it, thats more money for the gov to be spending on things needed and that makes more room for jails for the people that need it, and it makes others go out a get jobs.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  75. Matt

    If so many people are interested in legalizing these substances why don't we do something about it? For the people, by the people. Let's quit talking and get this done. It's OUR country.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  76. Tom

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    End drug prohibition.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  77. wayne

    leagalize it but test everyone for critical jobs – if they are not cleran then they dont get choice positions. Make it legal, tax the crap out of it and then dont allow users to get good jobs. That will fix it.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  78. Bill

    Legal MJ will reduce Mexican mafia and inner city gang violence because if you take away the huge profits, the problem goes away. No high profits no benefit for illegal sales. However the illegal drug business has created another situation, that of law enforcement getting addicted to drug money in the form of seizures to buy their toys. Imagine being able to purchase MJ at Walgreens for let's say $20/pack of 20 joints that were grown in controlled conditions by licenced growers and manufactured by major tobacco companies for quality control (I know the bad guys with the cigarettes). Add the tax revenue, lack of a need for thousands of jail cells, probation agents, court systems and other law enforcement costs and you've now got a safer world with more tax revenue.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  79. Andy

    Henry, sorry but people like you are part of the problem when it comes to discussing how we handle drug use in this country. Your 'the sky is falling' attitude doesn't help address how best to handle the problem it is basically a 'get em off the streets so I don't have to see em' attitude. Number one, the drug epidemic is blown way out of proportion by including the marijuana smokers. Number 2, the object is to treat addiction for what it is a disease. Number 3, we must do something to break the backs of the cartels and big drug sellers and the only way to do that is to take them out of the mix. Lastly many people get exposed to harder drugs because they start buying pot from dealers who may also sell harder drugs and thus are exposed to the temptation of trying those drugs. To have a legitimate discuss about drugs we have to discuss what they are (truthfully), what their effects are (truthfully) and how best to help those that have a problem with drugs (and that doesn't mean throw them in a jail cell).

    April 13, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  80. chase

    There is a big difference between legalization and decriminalization. If police stopped pretending they could eradicate marijuana, they would have more money to focus on crack and heroin and meth. I personally choose to live sober, but it's ridiculous to treat marijuana as an equal to harder drugs. It's all about proportion, and the current system is way out of proportion.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  81. nepawoods

    Pretty much any drug is more dangerous when it is obtained from unregulated black-market sources than when it is obtained from a quality controlled and regulated source. Making them legal will
    make them safer and will reduce the associated crime. It worked for alcohol, it will work for heroin.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  82. greggy

    I think all drugs should stay illegal because it will continue to keep them off the street. If drugs were legalized, then kids would start to use them. Just look at history, prohibition worked well! I don't remember why they stopped, but it must have been a good reason.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  83. someone

    legalize em, regulate 'em, and tax the hell out of 'em,. and tax the hell out of 'em. empty the prisons. end the violence.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  84. Doug

    Henry, do you mean like when prohibition was ended and alchohol was again legal? There are many legal drugs today, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc. Look at other countries where MJ is either legal or 'overlooked' ... is it/was it game over for them? If you want to be taken seriously, throw a few facts in with your opinions.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  85. Ashe

    We are spending billions of dollars to control uncontrollable substances. It's like teaching abstinence to teenagers instead of safe sex. IT DOES NOT WORK! Stop trying to control through prohibition of drugs. Quit listening to fanatics that say that if you legalize drugs then all your children will become addicts. There are plenty of people that don't drink alcohol. There are plenty of people that don't smoke. I don't have a single friend that would start using heroin if it were legalized. They haven't used it yet even with it being abundant and cheap. The same as crack cocaine, crystal meth., huffing paint, steroids... Not even mentioning how much time money and effort is wasted to incarcerate, try, and convict drug users and dealers. I live in a city where they have so much property theft that they send you an email when your car or house gets vandalized and or robbed. No personal interaction with the police face to face or even over the phone. Just an email to turn over to insurance. Yet, they have committed full time drug task forces. Officers that exist solely on the force to setup stings and catch lower to mid level drug pushers and users. Then there is the medicinal purposes. Let this be clear. I've seen the effects of chemo and radiation treatment. If they tell me that marijuana can alleviate some of my nausea and suffering so that I may keep my food down and maintain some strength to fight a life threatening illness, I'm using it. Legal or not. Every sane person out there knows that the gov with all it's laws and policies and policing can't do anything to stop me. Legalize drugs. It's the only logical way to control them.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  86. henry

    the moment any drug is leaglized in the united states, whether it be pot or crystal meth-– it is game over for the U.S.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  87. hugh

    I can't speak for all drugs, but, I definitely think, MJ should be legal. I don't use, but I think it's a pretty harmless drug that was prohibited by our the Federal government as a reaction against Mexican immigrants and African Americans – not b/c it was (or is) harmful.

    Many recreational drugs were outlawed as a reaction by the (white) Federal government to different minorities that were primarily thought to be using it.

    Furthermore, the Federal government is significantly losing the "war on drugs". Dealers are sentenced to outrageous prison terms (which costs taxpayers money to keep them incarncerated) as well dealers that do not get caught do not pay taxes on their profits. While many recreational drugs (like herion) are dangerous – pot is not.

    I can't believe a capitalist government and society would let a cash cow like mj go untaxed for so long. Wake up people! It can be regulated!

    April 13, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  88. andrew

    legalize them and tax the hell out of them

    April 13, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  89. Ken Beer

    Addiction to drugs should be treated as a disease, first. The current method of locking someone up and throwing away the key IS not working.

    The politicians in this country had better think about THE PEOPLE instead of their back pockets. It would be interesting to see exactly where the liquor lobby would be concerning the legallization of certain drugs.

    We are underseige on our borders with drug traffic. The youth in this country are numb from the constant activity with drugs. I think it is interesting that Nikita Khrushchev pounded the podium at the United Nations saying he would bury this country somehow. His wish is occuring with the help of an inadequate policy on drugs.

    Again, Mr. Politician whose hand is in the till for the GOOD of him, will find that he is not unnoticed.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  90. Concerned

    This is not a popular opinion, because most of us (myself included) are strongly against drug use, but drugs should be legalized. Those who understand the economics of black markets know that you simply cannot win a 'war on drugs'. You cannot successfully enforce a prohibition on anything for which there is a strong demand. The irony is that, because of the economics of it, the more successful you are in stopping the supply, the richer you make the organized crime syndicates that supply them. The richer they get, the more resources they have to circumvent your enforcement. You spend billions of dollars on law enforcement and on housing non-violent drug users in prisons (these are victims, not criminals), that you could be spending on free treatment centers and on convincing people voluntarily that they should not use drugs, and you make people afraid to seek help when they do want to stop. We should be completely committed to ending drug use in our society, but the method we've chosen to do it, through making it illegal and imposing harsh penalties, enhances the problem rather than solving it.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  91. Pattio

    Prohibition obviously does nothing to curb the use of drugs, instead it puts the power in the hands of criminals. How many more billions of dollars are we going to spend making this problem worse?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  92. B Bailey

    Why don't we look to Amsterdam as a model for legalizing marijuana? Are there challenges they've experienced or have they found that it can work? It would certainly put a dent in the cartels' business model. God forbid we should try something new, though.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  93. Dennis

    The "War on Drugs" is a farce, and we LOST the war years ago. Legalize drugs now. Produce them, market them, sell them and tax the hell out of them, and we can still put the criminal element out of business and reduce the level of violence associated with drugs. Half of the taxes (of which there will be Billion$) can go toward education and rehab programs to help people avoid durgs or quit using them (although it's pretty much been proven that AA and NA are the ONLY successful addiction treatment programs, and they're self-supporting) and the other half can go towards reducing the national debt.

    Thinking we're going to stop the demand and / or seriously interrupt the supply of drugs in this country is ludicrous. Legalize Druge, Lose the Thugs.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  94. Layla

    People who seek to drown themselves in drugs and alcohol are impossible to stop. They are self destructive individuals who do nothing but seek an eternal high. I say legalizing them will not cause anymore deaths among drug users. After all they rob , steal and kill for them now. It may actually save lives of those who don't do drugs ...

    April 13, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  95. Maureen

    Drugs are already legal in this country. Pharmaceutical Companies push drugs on TV all the time. It is rare that you ever watch TV and not see some sort of ad for something. Americans are now convinced that they have some sort of problem that drugs can fix. So let's just make all drugs legal, because as long as we are aware of the risks then we should all be accountable.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  96. Bill

    The "war on drugs" is a proven failure. Doesn't help anyone(users), and no one is safer because of it. If you don't want to see kids overdose, have some regulation. Stop feeding the "terrorists" who are bringing the drugs over. Isn't this basic capitalism?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  97. Bob

    I am so tired of hearing about young people dieing from overdoses as well as young people caught up in the drug trade and being arrested and having their lives crippled by a felony record. Lets consider legalizing it and get it out in the open.

    Keeping this underground only creates a mystic and allows our drug dealers to become richer in the process. They are the only ones benefiting, not the poor addict who needs help or the parents who cannot deal with something that is so secretive. Stop with the undercover mentality and get it in the open. If that fails we can always criminalize it again. Let us deal with this as adults and not cops, because that just does not work.

    April 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm |
  98. Bob

    I am so tired of hearing about young people dieing from overdoses as well as young people caught up in the drug trade and being arrested and having their lives crippled by a felony record. LEGALIZE it and get it out in the open.

    Keeping this underground only creates a mystic and allows our drug dealers to become richer in the process. They are the only ones benefiting, not the poor addict who needs help or the parents who cannot deal with something that is so secretive. Stop with the undercover mentality and get it in the open. If that fails we can always criminalize it again. Let us deal with this as adults and not cops, because that just does not work.

    April 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
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