Uncle Sam (Bill Walton) Wants You To Decriminalize Marijuana

Uncle Sam wants you to decriminalize marijuana. That's the candid message NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton had for ESPN viewers earlier this week, when he showed up for work dressed as Uncle Sam. 

After going to commercial during a live segment, the broadcast returned while Walton was telling his co-hosts what he thought about America's cannabis laws.

"Marijuana should not be a Schedule I drug," the former Boston Celtics center said. "And all the people who have been in trouble for it for all these years, Obama [should] just blanket amnesty and move on with the future."

No argument there. An overhaul of America's cannabis laws is long overdue. As Walton noted, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). That means the federal government considers marijuana a substance that has no medical value and is as dangerous as heroin. Meanwhile, 29 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. So the feds are lagging behind more than half the states on the issue.

And federal prohibition is exacerbating problems for America's overcrowded prisons. Many inmates behind bars are non-violent cannabis offenders. Some are even serving de facto life sentences without parole because of the country's draconian laws regarding mandatory minimum sentencing.

So Walton's gaffe is really a voice of reason breaking through the absurdity of the American legal system's approach to marijuana. The real blunder is the outdated law that continues harming the lives of peaceful cannabis consumers. 

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After making progress on marijuana reform, the legalization movement has stalled in two New England states. Cannabis became legal in Vermont last July, but state lawmakers did not put a regulated market for marijuana in place at that time. So while adults in Vermont can possess, grow and consume cannabis, they can't buy it legally.

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