Your question addresses a number of issues, many of which are multifaceted and not easily remedied.
There's plenty of educational material available, most don't care.
The average stoner just wants to get high. S/he gets busted, does jail time, mingles with hardened criminals, and gets a record that will affect future employment opportunities. The average drug dealer, on the other hand wants to make money. Lots of it. Often with violence ensuing. Treating them as equal under the law by providing equal punishment has resulted in prisons filled to capacity and increased criminal activity. The premise of legalization is that we ultimately create fewer criminals. Similar to the alcohol situation in the 1920's - if it's legal, the government can regulate it and make money.
However, under the "gateway drug" theory, more people will now try pot, decide they like the high, and move on to harder drugs. Most of our large cities have areas that are now effectively lawless, with drug gangs composed of unemployed youth shooting it out in turf battles daily. Young men with nothing to do will always find a way to get into trouble. Now, many of the blue collar type jobs this men used to find are now gone. The situation is pretty grim.
The so-called "War on Drugs" was a joke - mostly on the voters. Too many politicians, many of them closet users, too little understanding of drug culture and its causes, but it looked good on paper.
So, which is the "right" direction and which is "wrong?" Nothing is that clearly delineated when politics are involved.