Being a staunch conservative, I feel that pot should be legalized at a federal level... This is one issue that I don't understand why some republicans (esp. at the federal level) are against since it really should be decided at the state level what they want to legalize and to what degree. I think it's outrageous that the DEA still can close down a legal store (or at least confiscate all of their merchandise) because even though the state may legalize it, there may be some federal laws that they're breaking. The only ways I can see having the federal government involved with marijuana laws would be if it was transported into the US from an outside country, if the federal government passed something like the legal drinking age (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Minimum_Drinking_Age_Act_of_1984
) where there is no penalty at the national level for underage consumption and/or purchasing, but rather withholds federal funds to states that do not abide by the standards set by the federal government (thereby enticing states to pass laws making it illegal to purchase / possess alcoholic beverages under the age of 21), or if the FDA (or perhaps ATF) established rules defining how it was produced, characterized, etc. and conducted inspections to ensure that its production met with their standards.
You will not convince me that it is not addictive, and you will not convince me that it is not the first step to other, harder drugs.
I disagree that it is a so-called gateway drug... "Drugs" are anything (aside from foods) that a person takes in order to to alter the way they feel. Using this definition, there are many legal drugs (including legal, recreational drugs) that a person might consume, yet we don't consider them to be "gateway" drugs. Furthermore, it is not addictive as other drugs, even those legal, recreational ones (see http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-teenage-mind/201012/is-marijuana-addictive
), so in that sense it doesn't mimic the "harder" drugs. Only about 10%-30% of regular users are reported as having an addiction, and that number drops to near 0% for first-time users. And the withdraw symptoms are also pretty minor, making even relatively easy for an addict to stop "cold-turkey" (compare that to the legal, recreational drug of nicotine). Another big difference between marijuana and "hard" drugs is that it is extremely unlikely to overdose and die from pot (see http://www.newhealthguide.org/Can-You-Overdose-On-Marijuana.html
); in fact it is much easier to overdose on alcohol than from pot (it takes 40,000 times the amount of pot to OD than it takes to get high, yet with alcohol's stronger potency only takes about 5 times the amount to OD). And the deaths reported from marijuana consumption are either due to its influence affecting a person's perceptions when high (thus many deaths are due to driving while under the influence) or because there was a foreign substance in the marijuana (some dealers will spike the pot with "harder" substances in order to get the user addicted on that other substance) which with proper regulations on the manufacturing and characterization of marijuana would mostly eliminate. About the only similarity between marijuana and "hard" drugs that might make it a gateway drug is that it is illegal (in most states, esp. for recreational use), so the only way to purchase it is on the black market where the dealer may also sell the harder substances (including the spiking of the marijuana as described above). But if marijuana was made legal, then this becomes a moot point since legal shops, growers, and manufacturers would be out in the open and could be monitored more easily. Please note that I tried to find fairly objective sites / cites since both sides of the argument tend to over-exaggerate the reality of this drug's effects.