Conyers: Decriminalize Pot

( – The ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), said the United States should “decriminalize” marijuana as a way to fight the “War on Drugs.”

“I’m going to say something here today that I’ve never said before. I think we ought to decriminalize marijuana as a criminal activity,” said Conyers at a forum called “Declaring War on the War on Drugs” sponsored by the Institute of the Black World at the National Press Club on Friday. The topic of discussion was “the devastating effects of a racially biased strategy on black communities.”

Conyers then explained the rationale behind his position.

john conyers

Ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-Mich.). ( Starr)

“Because the use is so widespread, as a matter a fact, it’s going up, it’s commonplace and the medicinal harm has not been established and nor have we connected it, necessarily, to the use of other addictive drugs,” Conyers said at the event, which also featured fellow Democrat, Rev. Jesse Jackson.

According to the White House Office of National Drug Control policy, marijuana is the “most commonly used illicit drug.” The office’s official Web site cites statistics from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which show that an “estimated 104 million Americans aged 12 or older have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes, representing 41.5% of the U.S. population in that age group.”

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