There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and frees users from the stigma of criminal records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls as provided for by Amendment 64.
Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as organized crime controls marijuana distribution, consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.
Marijuana is easily less harmful than legal alcohol. It makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed marijuana policies that finance organized crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs. Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children are more important than the message.
Robert Sharpe, MPA
Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy