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Time to legalize marijuana

To the editor:

According to scientific journals, cannabis (often called marijuana) is far safer than alcohol, less addictive than caffeine, and has more medical uses than aspirin. Cannabis has known dozens of legitimate medical applications, including shrinking breast tumors and alleviating PTSD for our returning troops.

The 750,000 national arrests per year is a huge waste of law enforcement, justice system, and incarceration resources. Legalizing and taxing cannabis (industrial, medicinal and recreational) would bring in tens of millions of dollars to Minnesota in new revenue that people would gladly pay, and help revitalize our struggling rural economy with a new cash crop. Do you feel that gangs and drug dealers deserve the profits more than schools and hospitals?

Why is cannabis still illegal, considering an estimated 1 in 3 Americans have tried it? According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, “We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States.”

But things are changing. A majority of Americans favor legalizing cannabis and 80 percent support medical marijuana. Two states (Colorado and Washington) have already legalized recreational cannabis, with 12 more expected to do so in the coming years. Twenty states have legalized medical marijuana and 17 states have decriminalized marijuana possession.

All of these easily verifiable facts made me chuckle when I read the letter to the Echo by the Otter Tail County GOP Chair Susan Nelson last week. By continuing this “Reefer Madness” hysteria, the Republican Party is really falling behind the times and becoming less relevant each day. I’m proud of the DFL for supporting medical marijuana and hope we can fully legalize it in the coming years. The costly prohibition against cannabis is an archaic law that is more absurd than prohibition against alcohol was.

Shawn Olson Alexandria, MN