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January 2005
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Houston OpEd lays out the truth about marijuana

In yesterday’s Houston Chronicle, defense attorney Brian Samuelson has written an outstanding piece: Lawyer’s Plea on Pot Penalty.
Basically, he’s calling for decriminalization and gives quite a number of excellent practical reasons for it. He also, though, lays on the line the truths that are seldom told in public.
Here’s a taste:

In fact, the overwhelming evidence available today strongly indicates that marijuana use is not nearly as harmful as once believed, and actually has therapeutic and medicinal values. Unlike nicotine and alcohol, marijuana is not physically addictive. There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana kills brain cells, impairs long-term memory or causes mental or physical illness.

The only “harmful” effects from the use of marijuana that have been proven are that an individual under the influence of marijuana will realize a loss of short-term memory, difficulty learning and recalling new information, and a temporary impairment of psychomotor function.

Yes, marijuana temporarily dulls the senses. But, unlike alcohol, a person who intends to operate a motor vehicle after smoking marijuana can immediately eliminate the loss of perception, and its other temporary effects on the brain, by eating a small meal.

As a criminal defense attorney, I can assure you that arrests for driving under the influence of marijuana are extremely rare.

Every serious scholar and government commission that has examined the relationship between marijuana use and crime have reached the same conclusion: Marijuana use does not lead to crime. Almost all human and animal studies indicate that marijuana decreases rather than increases physical aggression.

Not bad. I hope a lot of people read it.

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