Prohibition 'Has Done More Damage To Public Health Than Marijuana Has,' Says Former Surgeon General

Marijuana prohibition is more harmful marijuana itself, according to former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, America's top doctor during the Clinton administration. 

“The war on marijuana exacerbates poverty, which is strongly correlated with — among other problems — reduced access to health care,” Elders argued in an article that will be published in next month's Journal of Public Health. “The unjust prohibition of marijuana has done more damage to public health than has marijuana itself,” she added.

Elders co-wrote the article with David L. Nathan and H. Westley Clark, who are all members of the advocacy group Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, an organization that believes nothing short of full, nationwide legalization can properly address the marijuana issue. 

Decriminalization does not empower the government to regulate product labeling and purity, which leaves marijuana vulnerable to contamination and adulteration,” they wrote. “This also renders consumers unable to judge the potency of marijuana, which is like drinking alcohol without knowing its strength. Moreover, where marijuana is merely decriminalized, the point of sale remains in the hands of drug dealers, who will sell marijuana — as well as more dangerous drugs — to children.”

They added that decriminalization is definitely "a step in the right direction," but it doesn't actually work. “Contrary to popular belief, decriminalization does not actually end the arrests of marijuana users. Despite New York State decriminalizing marijuana in the 1970s, New York City makes tens of thousands of marijuana possession arrests every year, with continuing racial disparities in enforcement.” 

This isn't the first time Elders has spoken out about marijuana legalization. In fact, her controversial support of cannabis research led to her being forced to resign from her post with the Clinton administration in the 90s. But losing her job didn't put a stop to her advocacy. Last year, she criticized federal cannabis prohibition as a failed policy that has done nothing but waste massive amounts of taxpayer money and overcrowd America's prisons.

"We've spent trillions of dollars...on something that has really made no difference," Elders said at the 2016 International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco. "All it's done is made us build bigger, better prisons. The cost of keeping one prisoner in prison for one year is from twenty-one to forty thousand dollars a year. And we could send a lot of young people — we could send them to college for less than we pay to keep them in our prison system."

So unless the federal government takes her prescription to legalize marijuana, the prison system will continue to swell and the country will keep hemorrhaging taxpayer dollars.

h/t Marijuana Moment

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