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The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 placed marijuana in Schedule I, defining it "as having a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision." However, research since then has proven otherwise. Moreover, 35 states have passed legislation that authorizes its medical benefits. -- Jennie Matusova, La Jolla H.S.

I believe there are good uses for marijuana. Look at all of the victims of multiple sclerosis or leukemia; their pain is constant. I believe that with the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, it would help ease some of the pain that these people go through. I believe that it should be used for medicine only. Being in high school, I see the many students who come to school high every day. I have to admit that seeing it is funny, but sad, too. Many of these kids don't realize what they are putting their bodies through! With the legalization of this drug, can you imagine how many other teens will be subjected to it? Even kids like me, who don't even wish to try it.... What I am trying to say is, we can all be tempted. Marijuana's legalization would definitely send the wrong message to us teens. Doctors should be the only ones allowed to distribute this drug. I feel that the state should not even attempt to override federal law on this issue.

If this drug were legalized, I don't think that it would necessarily open the door for other drugs because most of the other ones have way more devastating effects. I shudder to think about having those drugs sold in open markets. Can you imagine buying crystal meth at a local Wal-Mart or Target? -- Lee Ann Gonzales, Monte Vista H.S.

Doctors argue that there are several legal prescription drugs that provide effective relief from pain. Most of these medications have brutal side effects (especially in the level prescribed by doctors) not the least of which is addiction. The effects of marijuana, conversely, are usually likened to those of cigarettes -- plus the hallucinogenic effects. But let's forget about the patients because it isn't about them. It's about state-versus-federal powers, which is as old as the Constitution; it's about the moral stigma that lawmakers associate with marijuana and the notion of the nation's doctors functioning as street-drug vendors. The biggest issue, though, is about marijuana becoming legal as a recreational drug after it's become legal as a medication. There's little question about people in pain who need relief, but lawmakers are more worried about the message this will send.

What might that message be? That the criminalization of marijuana, like Prohibition, is truly failing? Well, it may be. As it stands, the small fines for possession, ease of acquisition, and the number of casual users constitute a neglect of the laws against it.

At some point, the more liberal states will begin making concessions to the legalization campaign. Eventually most (if not all) of the states will follow. The challenges of enforcing current laws will be a factor, but it will become a money matter, like everything else. If there is a demand, someone will fill it, and whether gangsters or governments reap the benefits depends on the Capitol. -- Robert Burton, Helix H.S.

I believe that marijuana should be legalized for people who need it. Some people will claim to have health problems just so they can obtain medical marijuana, so, the law will be broken no matter what. The lifting of Prohibition in 1933 didn't lead to the acceptance of other drugs. I don't believe the legalization of marijuana would lead to the legalization of other drugs. Teens will try marijuana even if it isn't legal.

Since 1996, 11 states have legalized medical marijuana. I find it very strange that doctors are currently allowed to prescribe cocaine and morphine but not marijuana. According to administrative law judge Francis L. Young, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known...." Most people who smoke marijuana only smoke it once. Smaller than 1 percent of Americans develop a dependence on marijuana. Put into perspective, pot is less addictive than coffee. -- Natalie Venolia, Ramona H.S.

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