I don't use illegal drugs, I don't advocate the use of illegal drugs, and I am not an advocate of legalization of marijuana and really I don't even advocate decriminalization, however decriminalization DOES make sense. It pains me to say this (because I know enough zoned out pot heads who don't know where they are half the time) but the United States could make a healthy revenue off of the decriminalization of pot while still keeping it illegal and discouraging people to smoke it. The first thing you have to look at is the amount of time and money it takes to send some kid who picked up a couple of joints off of some dealer and then got caught to jail. The court costs that are racked up because of these stupid kids who made a mistake is staggering. It costs over 7 billion dollars a year to enforce marijuana laws, and good portion of that is wasted on small time recreational users. Now, this is what I propose: When a person gets pulled over and is caught with marijuana, and he is a first time offender, he should receive a hefty fine. Somewhere around the $300 mark would be sufficient. The second time, $600. The third? Jail. This three strike rule would cut down on court costs dramatically and would allow the government to worry more about what the War on Drugs was supposed to be about: going after dealers. The 17 year old kid who did that stupid thing (as a former 17 year old I did my fair share of stupid things and I'm sure everyone out there did as well) shouldn't go to jail but should be driven home and handed over to his parents with a hefty fine. That alone will make many people, when put into a situation with his or her peers, go "Hell no! I can't afford another fine like that."
As I said above, I certainly don't advocate or use marijuana, but when you look at the history of why it became illegal it goes against my fair market beliefs. Pot was made illegal mostly because of lobbyists from three different products: Tobacco, Alcohol, and Rope. Tobacco wanted people to smoke THEIR substance, and quite frankly its harder and more expensive to grow tobacco (and has less rewarding results when smoked). Basically the same with alcohol. Alcohol is a laborous man made process of creating something that makes you feel "messed up", and is once again more expensive than growing pot. The rope people (or more specifically cotton people) wanted to have rope made out of cotton instead of the much stronger (and cheaper, again, to grow) hemp material.
The last part of this, I'm torn. As a social conservative I would whoop my child's butt for smoking pot and I don't agree that pot doesn't kill your brain cells. I know many zoned out pot heads, like I said above, and the evidence is there. Smoke a lot of pot, you get dummer. HOWEVER the argument that it is addictive is bunk. There is no chemical substance that makes you physically addictive, and I don't agree that you would necessarily start using harder drugs because you smoke pot once or twice. BUT if you're driving out to areas where you can buy pot, the odds are about 99% that pot isn't the only drug that the pusher is pushing and probably isn't where he makes his money so that he can afford to purchase and drive around his Cadillac with 20 inch rims. Hes going to tell you, "Hey, you like that stuff? Try this, it will get you higher and will make you higher longer." The stupid kid will probably go "DER, Okay." and purchase it. And that's why I think the War on Drugs could start really working instead of being tied up with small time legal battles to punish kids who just did something stupid. The cops could start focusing on what the War on Drugs is really about: Big time dealers and drug smugglers. If you can stop the dealers and smugglers, the rest will naturally follow anyways.