Jimmy Carter Speaks Out For Legalization
In recent news, Former President Jimmy Carter was recently published in The New York Times for his article on marijuana possession, and his belief in national drug reform. In the article, the former President took his stance on the current drug war, and how during his presidency he pushed for decriminalization of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Mr. Carter spoke his opinion on many matters that are effecting the population today, including the increasing boom to the prison population. Most in part, due to the rise in arrests due to cannabis possession.
These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”
President Carter criticized his predecessor, President Reagan and Congress. Mr. Carter points out a noticeable shift away from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries. He continues, “At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults!”, states Mr. Carter.
Maybe the increased tax burden on wealthy citizens necessary to pay for the war on drugs will help to bring about a reform of America’s drug policies. At least the recommendations of the Global Commission will give some cover to political leaders who wish to do what is right.
Carter on marijuana legalization
He continues his plea for new policy by following up with a personal story about his experience with a group of prison inmates. Mr. Carter recalls his time working side by side with these young men, and points out that more than half of the group were in prison due to drug-related crimes. He continues by stating, “…and they would have been better off in college or trade school.”
This is a very encouraging article, and I implore you to read it. Although a former President, it is refreshing to have a man of such political tout on the side of drug policy reform.