There was a recent debate on the NYT Opinion page regarding the legalization of cannabis which can be found here and is worth a read (hat tip to V for the link). Here is a snippet:
What would happen if the drug were legalized? The Dutch de facto legalization of sale through coffee shops is the closest available experience. The most striking observation is that marijuana use in that country is lower than in many other European countries and a lot lower than in the United States; 6 percent of 15- to 64-year-olds in Holland had used marijuana in the past year, compared to 11 percent in the U.S.
That statistic aside, I do not think legalization as a national policy will occur anytime soon here in the U.S. Decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana does seem more feasible and probably will happen in the near future. But there is too much of a stigma attached to marijuana and too much bad information out there about the drug to prevent outright legalization until more studies can be done and public opinion shifts.
Marijuana is not a harmless drug, despite what legalization advocates might say. It can lead to dependence and its potency can lead to impairment. However, it may not be as harmful as tobacco and alcohol, and like those things (and all other things that are bad for us), it should be used in moderation.
This has been an Ariel Juarez PSA.