March 26th, 2009
07:37 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Legalize Pot?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/02/09/health.pot.cancer/art.pot.gi.jpg caption="Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on AC360°, Anderson will be reporting live again from the U.S.-Mexico border on the rising drug violence. For months, Mexico's cartels have been clashing with police with deadly consequences. About 7,300 people have been killed since January 2008. One of the many questions we'll tackle tonight is: Would legalizing drugs in the U.S. stop the violence?

Today, in a lighthearted moment during a White House online town hall meeting, President Obama said he received a lot of questions about the potential of legalizing marijuana and then taxing it to rake in the cash.

"This is a fairly popular question... I don't know what this says about the online audience," the president joked. He then got serious and added, "No, I don't think this is a good strategy to grow our economy."

Do you agree with the President? Share your thoughts below.

Consider these facts on marijuana from a recent government survey:

– Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States.
– Nearly 98 million Americans over the age of 12 have tried marijuana at least once.
– Over 14 million had used the drug in the month before the survey.

We'll have all the angles on this debate tonight. Anderson will talk with two people on different sides of the issue.

Join us for that and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (314 Responses)

    so you're into censorship, huh?

    March 27, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  2. Bailey

    thiis herb grows wide and wild in about every state in the USA., not just coming from mexico, or columbia, there is never going be a way to outbeat it or destory it, if it was legalized like cigarettes, which i believe is more harmful and alcahol which i believe also is more harmful, but both are legal, i do believe taxing it would help the USA that is very much in debt, as for the legalizing part of it, it needs to have strict rules with it, just as alcahol has it benefits, it also can be abused as does overeating, cigarettes,etc. is also addictive, it is proven it would take 900 joints to smoke in a sitting to overdose, not like other drugs or alcahol can do, if you smoked it and drove just like drinking, all has its dangers, everything has to be done in moderation with self disipline, thats why we have age limits for teens for what they are allowed to do or not do,as for our govnment is against legalizing pot, they sure dont have the answers for all the problems that are created, but yet they play god and insist there way is right, so the proven fact is our govnment cant get our nation together, with all the problems created, they need to do something that works, so you can see they dont have the answer for this drug, they'd rather destroy peoples lives and just throw them away, put people in prison, these are non-violent people, they get no counseling, for up to 40 yr.which destroys and punishes the whole family ,for something that you cant get addicted, and im not talking about the other drugs, just pot. other drugs are proven to be addictive, not pot. just because you legalize pot doesnt mean you have to leagalize all drugs, so the more people that are being brought into this world, which is getting overpopulated the more problems that are created, so then the govn wont change the rules(laws), therefore our country will become more socialism and therefore after ,become communism, see problem solved...

    March 27, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  3. Dave

    Marijuana may be useful... for example:

    National Debt:
    In addition to dealing with the financial crisis we must immediately, directly, and skillfully address major transformative issues. For example:

    -Our public education system, with notable exceptions, is not competitive
    -Our Nations health care system is technically superior and administratively/financially incompetent
    -Manufacturing capability is dangerously degraded
    -US Trade imbalance is unacceptable and destructive

    I’m as angry as anyone that our “leaders” , both public and private, spent us into bankruptcy while watching strategic infrastructure and institutions fall apart. However, we still need to fix the problems. More money is not the only answer, but it’s clear that a temporary increase in national debt is required to put us back on a positive path.

    Don’t you wish, with the benefit of sophisticated forensic analysis, that you could stand just behind the individual piloting the Titanic (the person that issued the command: Full a stern and hard a port] and whisper:

    Angel: Add some power and change direction
    Titanic Pilot: WHAT? ARE YOU INSANE?
    Angel: No. really. Add some power and change direction.
    Titanic Pilot: GET LOST!
    The lesson: Add some power(debt) and change direction or expect a long and steep decline.

    The temporary increase in national debt is counter intuitive and a bit horrifying but can be managed and eventually eliminated.

    Listen– If you’re having a tough time dealing with this difficult transition, then sing with me: No stems or seeds that we don’t need (slight pause) Acapulco gold is the brand for me.

    No. Wait Wait Wait… The Times of Excess have Ended… I’m Sure 🙂

    March 27, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  4. Chris

    While I believe that pot should be legalized it does present some real challenges. Like liquor there are varying degrees of quality, i.e. well vs. top shelf, regular beer vs. micro-brewery. How and who will determine the pricing and how will it be packaged? Will it mirror cigarettes with 20 to a pack? More importantly, how will intoxication levels be determined. Can it be measured in the same way that alcohol is? Some people show the effect of the pot high more visibly than others (red eye) but that doesn't necessarily indicate degree of impairment. Who makes the call as to who is higher than the other? Again, a myriad of challenges exist.

    March 27, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  5. Candy Kelly

    I'm voting with the majority – LEGALIZE IT, TAX IT, and, just like cigarettes and alcohol, run programs to get people off of it. Let's put it on the ballot and see how many of us believe this "war" on drugs will work better than the one we talk about now.

    March 27, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  6. Jason Foreman

    Marijuana should be treated just like Alcohol and Cigarettes. It should be treated as a normal mind altering substance. Dont drive on it, dont sell to minors. It's a victimless crime that persons should not have thier lives ruined over. Cocaine and Heroin are drugs. Marijuanna is not. It should only be a controlled substance.

    March 27, 2009 at 10:43 am |
  7. BILL

    The dracomian drugs laws have done nothing but fill our prisons and with little effect on its trafficing. To this point it has made the United States the most numerous prison population system in the world ever. It is a ONLY A PEOPLE BUSINESS with little or no intent of correction or rehabilitation. The most numerous offence being a mandatory prison sentence for the possession of a minimal amount of marijuana. To this end,m it would make more sence to legalize marijuana at a state or federally licensed location and a high tax. Those funds to be earmakered for drug education in general and supporting the same within the prison system. Also, then make those who sell outside that system pay dearly with stiff sentences and fines. Remember that I am only referring to marijuana: not the hard drugs of cocain, crack, etc. But the funds generated in this manner could also be used for educational programs to even lessen that issue.

    March 27, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  8. PWII

    Yes it should be legal. Will it? No. Too many people in the US make money for keeping it Illegal. Cops,Jails,bailbondsmen, legalization would cut their budget... they won't stand for that. Grow your own and keep smokin. When was the last time the govt. did something correct or logical... NEVER. PEACE

    March 27, 2009 at 10:31 am |
  9. yves caron

    I'm in favour of legalizing marijuana, prostitution and gambling in all states. Taxing religion would also be a major plus.

    March 27, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  10. tom

    I work in construction & know of many of people who have quit smoking marijuana for months. Just to get a job .I have smoked d for 30 years & in them years I have become a master electrician. 25 vears in the trade
    now with there drug policy .I must quit again for 30 days to get a job. I do not drink or do any other drugs or smoked at work. Now the real problem is that they lie to the kid & tell them what great harm that marijuana will do them as they sip there drinks . So they do not believe them about other deadly drugs .TELL THE TRUTH THE WHOLE TRUTH & NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

    March 27, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  11. Rob

    Why not legalize? Most of these drugs have been around since B.C. and very few people die from actually using them. More people have died fighting this silly war than have died from using the "illegal" drugs. Most, if not all,of the harm from illegal drugs is from the prohibition of them.

    What? Is it okay for big pharma to push their drugs. More of us die from their drugs. But that's okay?

    Regardless of what is done, people are gonna get their drugs. They always have and they always will.

    March 27, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  12. Josh Caterson

    Legalize it without question. There is no reason for this drug to be illegal period. In 1937 marijuana discrimination began with the Marijuana Stamp Tax Law and it's been followed by lies and government propaganda ever since. We legalized alcohol not because it was good or bad for your health but because the violence of the mafia, bootleggers and the black market required it so that we could better control and regulate it. The mafia was defeated overnight by the legalization of alcohol and bootleggers became Nascar drivers or in other words found something else to do with their time. Legalizing marijuana would mean we no longer have to spend money trying to stop it and allowing the flow of money to stop going to the drug cartels and back into the form of tax revenue. For young people it's easy to get marijuana or other illicit drugs from a drug dealer where as very few drug dealers would go into a store, stand in front of a camera, show ID and, hand over a bottle of store bought liquor to a minor. The same laws should apply to marijuana as they do to alcohol and tobacco.

    March 27, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  13. SheilitaR

    I must preface my comments by saying that I do NOT believe that anyone should take a drug (including alcohol) at any time for any reason. When one sees the deleterious effects on the human body, it is absolutely frightening. I am not stating this for religious reasons; simply out of health concerns. Nevertheless, I do think that drugs should be legalized in America. It would remove much of the violence associated with this now illicit industry. My father was born in 1910. He never drank nor used drugs; however, he did live through Prohibition. He stated that there were as many "bootleg wars" and shootouts then as there are local drug wars now. (Since many of the former bootlegers families are now "respectable", they keep this information quiet). I also believe that there are those with rebellious natures who find some perverse pleasure in breaking the law. If drugs were legalized, the naughty-but-glamorous effect would be eliminated. There will always be those with genetic and environmental predispositions toward addictive behavior. Perhaps the money raised from taxation on these items could pay for education and detoxification programs. I do not have all of the answers, but I do think that drugs should be legalized yet never consumed..

    March 27, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  14. Patrick from Bäle

    To legalize a mind altering drog like marijuana should be out of the question. If it's not, then we haven't done enough to educate people, especially young people, about the dangers, risks and repercussions of taking mind altering drugs, especially marijuana.

    Some people, mostly young people, say that older people drink alcohol, why can't we smoke marijuana. Is there a difference? I'm not trying to make a case for alcohol but, today, when clear consiousness is so important, taking any substance that directly alters an individual's consciousness should be, especially on an individual basis, a questionable activity. Alcohol is different. It's a kind of food. It's edible/drinkable. It has a special history. It was even used in some of the major mystery center rituals of old because of its special properties. Perhaps its grounding affect was necessary at that time to help bring conscious down to earth. Young people, if they are properly informed, might not want to take the risk of forcing upon themselves a return to conditions of the past and retarding their evolution through the use of drugs, and alcohol, too. It's use should be an informed, individual decision made by both adults and young people.
    Marijuana is different. Just when health officials are trying to help people stop smoking for health reasons, some people want to add burnt marijuana tars and chemical substances to their lungs and make it legal? True, one can eat marijuana but why –to protect the lungs? Marijuana should be judged by its own affects and not compared to alcohol.

    March 27, 2009 at 7:21 am |
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