Below the roar of the presidential race and measures on reproductive and same-sex marriage rights, two states approved sweeping changes to marijuana laws on November 4, reports AlterNet.
Michigan voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for medical use, while Massachusetts citizens chose to decriminalize marijuana possession, replacing arrest and possible jail time with a $100 fine.
AlterNet applauds the sensible cost-benefit analysis behind the voters' decisions. The millions of dollars and hundreds of hours the government and the police have committed to arrests, incarceration, and prevention campaigns haven't done much to stymie the drug's use, as seen in statistics gathered by the Bureau of Justice.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, marijuana possession accounted for more than a third of all possession arrests in 2006, and the total number of marijuana-related arrests for that year (829,600) far outnumbers those of heroin/cocaine (582,100).
In light of those numbers, why not take the resources once devoted to processing these minor crimes and instead direct them toward more serious issues like gun crime or drug trafficking?
Michigan is the 13th state to approve the use of medical marijuana, which a number of studies have revealed provides relief from the nausea and pain of several diseases and their treatments.