DrugMonkey has a post on legalization efforts for marijuana in Washington state. I think that this might be my public health background, but why is the focus on on harm reduction and not the legal status of the drug? I have no trouble believing that use of this substance may have adverse effects over the long term. But so do legal substances like tobacco and alcohol. Furthermore, how does the harm stack up to the harm done by a term in a prison? A lifetime of reduced employment opportunities, acculturation in a brutal environment as well as being a victim of the violence that occurs in jails.
Why not look for middle grounds? A heavily taxed substance that minors are prevented from buying (the tobacco model)? Decriminalization so that use equals fines and not police breaking down one's door (the Canadian model)?
Why is the focus not on maximizing public health outcomes?