The New York Times article only refers to medical marijuana, but opponents of complete legalization are probably correct that policies of decriminalization regarding medicinal use will eventually lead to looser laws. I don't know, but if I had to guess, moneyed interests in the pharmaceutical industry played a big role at holding up medicinal marijuana for so many years, probably because a cheaply grown plant can treat several illnesses just as well -- if not better -- than a more expensive pill.
I don't understand why we don't just legalize marijuana across the board. The drug itself is less harmful than many over-the-counter drugs and other legal recreation drugs (alcohol comes to mind). And the whole "gateway drug" argument is bullshit. Nothing about marijuana itself predisposes one to further drug use; if you're likely to experiment with one drug, you'd obviously be likely to try others.
Still, according to the PEW Research Center, the country remains divided.
Legalizing marijuana remains a controversial proposal, with 46% saying they favor removing criminal punishments for the possession of small amounts of marijuana and 49% saying it should remain a criminal offense. Support for removing the penalties for minor possession has remained steady since the 1980s, and is down slightly from the 1970s.I'm most certainly with the 46%. I don't even understand the argument against legalization; the benefits of taxation could be astronomical -- especially for my home state of Kentucky, where we grow that stuff like madness -- not to mention the money saved on prosecution and incarceration of minor drug offenders.
I'm honestly surprised more politicians don't take a harder line on this issue. I'm not sure it would be the political suicide some fear, though Gatewood Galbraith, perennial loser in the Kentucky governor's race (and my favorite candidate because he's bat shit crazy) hasn't gained much traction with it. Someone slightly less blunt might have better luck -- I'm looking at you Schwarzenegger.