As a Republican mother committed to legalizing marijuana, political life can be lonely. But while many in my party whisper about the Drug War's insanity, we should shout it from the rooftop: the time to legalize is now.
Calling for a new approach doesn't make me a pothead. In fact, while I freely admit to having previously smoked marijuana -- as do more than 95 million other Americans, including our last three presidents -- I choose not to be an active marijuana user today.
While opponents may argue that legalization is all about a bunch of twentysomethings wanting to get high, the debate deserves a more respectful and truthful analysis.
Take medical marijuana. On July 20, Colorado's Health Board voted down a proposal that would have effectively shuttered the medical marijuana dispensaries serving as crucial sources of legal marijuana across the state. As a result, courageous patients, including AIDS survivor Damien LaGoy, will not have to take to dangerous streets to obtain marijuana.
Instead, the state's nearly 10,000 patients can continue their existing relationships with dispensaries, many of who deliver to the homebound and hold extensive knowledge about the benefits and side effects of specific strains.
To LaGoy, who weighs just 100 pounds, marijuana is the only medicine proven to effectively combat the nausea he faces from his pharmaceutical medications.
Even outside of medical uses, support for outright legalization is skyrocketing. An April ABC News-Washington Post poll concluded that national support stands at 46 percent.
Already, there is talk that Colorado may see a legalization bill in 2010. In 2006, voters were asked to legalize small amounts for adult consumption. Forty-four percent said yes -- more than the number supporting the GOP's gubernatorial candidate. With one more vote in every 10, Colorado could become the first state to lift prohibition entirely.
If history is any guide, the crucial female voting bloc, including many Republicans, will provide the political will essential to making this happen.
In 1929, it was the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform successfully leading the charge to end America's decade-long experiment with alcohol prohibition. While many of these same activists fought just years earlier to forbid booze, they quickly witnessed prohibition's devastating consequences, including increased violence.
Just four years into the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform's repeal efforts, prohibition was over.
Prohibition is a bipartisan creation, lending power to drug cartels and bad public policy. One example: Students convicted of any drug offense can be stripped of all federal financial aid, forcing many out of school and into low-income communities where harsher drugs, including methamphetamine, run rampant.
Courageous conservatives across the country, including Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and former New Mexico Gov. Tim Johnson, have all said yes to legalization.
If we believe that smaller government is better government, we must trust people to choose what to put into their bodies. If we support legalized access to alcohol, cigarettes, and 700-calorie cheeseburgers, we should legalize marijuana -- a far less harmful substance.
So what will I tell my kids when they are old enough to contemplate marijuana use? I'll tell them I hope they make good decisions with their bodies, which are sacred and should be respected. If all goes as planned, I'll also be able to take them down memory lane, sharing what it was like to have lived under prohibition.
How I dream of the sweet day that government finally relinquishing its control, allowing my husband and me to finally parent our children.
Jessica Peck Corry is a policy analyst with the Independence Institute in Golden and a co-founder of Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana Prohibition.