Question;Read the two expert responses to the topic.Write a minimum 350-500-word response, in essay format, to the following questions:o Objectively summarize the view of each writer. Be sure to state the writers' names. Only summarize each writer's view--do not include your own views or opinions about the topic or about the writers' views.o How did each writer address arguments and counter-arguments?o How effective were the arguments presented by each writer?o What new information or insight into your topic did you gain? How does understanding the views of others help shape your own views?Pro/ConShould marijuana laws be relaxed?YesPaul ArmentanoSenior policy analyst, The NORML FoundationWritten for The CQ Researcher, February 2005Scott Bryant had just settled down to watch TV with his 7-year-old son on the night of April 17, 1995, when 13 Wisconsin sheriff's deputies burst through his front door looking for marijuana. Bryant, 29, who was unarmed, was shot and killed as his young son helplessly looked on. Police seized less than three grams of marijuana in the no-knock raid. On review, the county district attorney ruled that the shooting was ?not in any way justified.?Scott Bryant was a victim ? not of marijuana, but of marijuana prohibition. During the past decade, more than 6.5 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, more than the entire combined populations of Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. As in Bryant's case, nearly 90 percent of these arrests were for the simple possession of marijuana for personal use, not for cultivation or sale.Annually, state and local justice for marijuana arrests are now estimated to cost $7.6 billion, or approximately $10,400 per arrest. However, despite this massive expenditure and the threat of arrest, approximately 80 million Americans, including former President Bill Clinton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, self-identify as having used marijuana at some point in their lives. Nearly 15 million Americans admit to being current users of cannabis. It is time for America's marijuana laws to reflect this reality, not deny it.Critics of liberalizing America's marijuana laws argue that marijuana isn't a ?harmless? substance. They're correct, marijuana isn't harmless. In fact, no substance is, including those that are legal. However, as acknowledged by a study in the current issue of Current Opinion in Pharmacology, ?Overall, by comparison with other drugs used mainly for 'recreational' purposes, cannabis [is] rated to be a relatively safe drug.? Indeed, by far the greatest danger to health posed by the adult use of cannabis stems from a criminal arrest and incarceration.Speaking before Congress on the 40th anniversary of marijuana prohibition, Aug. 2, 1977, former President Jimmy Carter stated: ?Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.?More than 25 years later, the time has come to heed his advice and to stop arresting the millions of otherwise law-abiding adults who use marijuana.NoRobert L. DuPont, M.D.President, Institute for Behavior and Health, former director, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and White House drug czar for Presidents Nixon and FordWritten for The CQ Researcher, February 2005Marijuana is a dangerous drug that is prohibited not only in the United States but throughout almost all of the rest of the world ? for sound public health reasons.First, let's dispense with the myth that many marijuana users end up in prison. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, only possession of marijuana with intent to sell is a felony. Federal prosecution for marijuana possession is limited to major drug traffickers. Thus, in 2001 only 2.3 percent of defendants sentenced in federal court for a marijuana offense were sentenced for simple possession ? 186 people. In state prisons in 2002, only 8,400 prisoners (about 0.7 percent of the total prison population of 1.2 million) were serving time for possession marijuana, and only half of those were incarcerated for a first offense. Prison is not a realistic risk for American marijuana users unless they also are drug sellers. Drug trafficking, including the sale of marijuana, is a serious crime deserving of stiff punishments.The collective national judgment about marijuana is expressed in the nation's democratically enacted laws. Like speeding, drunken driving, smoking cigarettes in elevators and failing to buckle your seat belt in a car, possessing and selling marijuana are prohibited in order to protect the public health.Moreover, marijuana use is dangerous. MayoClinic.com reported that marijuana use reduces memory, inhibits driving ability, limits attention span, increases the risk of schizophrenia, generates paranoia, anxiety and panic attacks and causes breathing trouble. That same report stated, ?Burning marijuana smoke contains higher amounts of some cancer-causing chemical than does tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana increases your risk of cancer of the mouth, larynx and lungs.?The risk of arrest and a fine ? but not prison ? for the possession of marijuana is real but small. The health risk from using marijuana is also real but by no means small. For American youth, marijuana use leads to more drug-abuse treatment than all other drugs and alcohol combined. It also leads to more than 100,000 emergency room episodes per year.The ongoing debate over marijuana laws is healthy. When all of the facts are carefully considered, I am confident that legislators across the country will see the wisdom of continuing to prohibit the use and sale of marijuana. The goal of this legal prohibition is to reduce the levels of marijuana use and the serious harm caused by that use.
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