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Editorial: The Business Case For Marijuana

27 March 2010 News 11,856 views 6 CommentsPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

In recent months, backers of The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act successfully gathered more than a half-million signatures from supporters throughout California. In November, the state’s voters can finally make it clear that growing, selling or using marijuana should not be a crime.

We certainly hope they do so.

California is poised to adopt a sensible and long overdue approach to marijuana that will allow law enforcement to devote their resources to far more serious matters. The state can also begin collecting excise and sales tax revenue from legalized cannabis while organized crime takes a huge hit.

And let’s not forget that medical marijuana patients will no longer be made to feel like criminals when they seek pain relief and other medicinal benefits.

Still, even in the face of common sense and growing public sentiment, there are those who want the prohibition enforced. Given the uphill climb to see medical marijuana legalized in 14 states, this stubborn opposition is as predictable as it is misguided.

In fact, seldom do you encounter an issue where California law enforcement groups and Mexican drug cartels find themselves on common ground. But that, regrettably, appears to be the case in this issue.

The bad guys hate the prospect of legalized marijuana because it will cripple the highly lucrative black market. There will be no further need for human “mules” to risk their lives smuggling marijuana from Mexico and the cartels will lose a cash cow that bankrolls their other illegal activities. That, in and of itself, is a huge upside to legalization.

Far more baffling are police groups that have signaled their determination to push back against safe legal access to marijuana. In their quest to maintain the status quo, they insist marijuana must remain a crime regardless of public opinion or the cost of enforcement. Typically, they predict that more people will drive while impaired. But what they neglect to add is that drunk driving laws have long applied to all types of intoxicants–and will continue to do so. Marijuana users ask for nothing more than the same rights and responsibilities as those who choose to consume alcohol.

Opponents also trot out the old argument that more young people will have access to the drug if it’s legal. But, as any teen will tell you, it’s easier for them to buy marijuana these days than beer. The new law would strictly limit access to those over 21. Anyone providing marijuana to those underage would risk legal sanctions — the same as alcohol. If anything, legalization would bring marijuana out of the shadows and provide much needed distribution and quality control.

Those fighting to keep marijuana illegal seldom mention that the proposed law includes an “opt-out clause.” In the same way that some towns choose to remain “dry” or otherwise curtail the availability of alcohol, individual municipalities in the state could continue to ban marijuana sales. The law would also prohibit consumption in public places.

Many law enforcement groups persist in their ironclad opposition, apparently because that’s the way it’s always been. For example, John Standish, president of the 3,800-member California Peace Officers Association told the New York Times, “We just don’t think any good is going to come from this. It’s not going to better society. It’s going to denigrate it.” As is typically the case, no evidence was cited to support this dubious claim.

The California Police Chiefs Association, meanwhile, has enlisted a hired gun: noted Sacramento lobbyist John Lovell. In an interview with KABC-TV Los Angeles, Lovell dismissed marijuana legalization because “We already have significant problems with alcohol.” It’s worth noting that Lovell‘s website touts him as a “former chief political troubleshooter” for E. & J. Gallo, a major California wine-maker.  

On the other side of the coin, State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is predicting that legal marijuana would net the state an estimated $1.5 billion in additional revenue each year while saving the state tens of millions of dollars in prison and law enforcement costs. He notes that the money could go to restoring funds for education, including drug awareness programs that were slashed because of budget constraints.

The money issue, while huge, is not the only thing driving the movement to legalize marijuana. The more pressing issue is simply this: the status quo has been a disaster. Until now, handcuffs, jail cells and ruined lives have all-to-frequently defined the state’s approach to enforcement.

It’s time for California to lead the nation and declare that using marijuana should not be a criminal offense.

 


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6 Comments »

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Fuma Cigar, Rice Sax. Rice Sax said: Editorial: The Business Case For Marijuana – The Marijuana Business Reporter http://bit.ly/cNHLKY [...]

  2. Why on Earth is the least toxic substance the one that is banned? And why on Earth would you expect Americans to tolerate tyranny? Allow me to boil it down for you, Johnny: To keep Cannabis illegal while tobacco and alcohol are dispensed freely would be *MURDEROUSLY STUPID*.

    ANY questions?
    http://tinyurl.com/Tashkin
    http://tinyurl.com/Henningfield-Benowitz
    http://www.breakthematrix.com/Alternatives/Top-

    -Richard Steeb, San Jose California

  3. Prohibition is a sickening horror and the ocean of human wreckage it has left in its wake is almost endless.

    Prohibition has decimated generations and criminalized millions for a behavior which is entwined in human existence, and for what other purpose than to uphold the defunct and corrupt thinking of a minority of misguided, self-righteous Neo-Puritans and degenerate demagogues who wish nothing but unadulterated destruction on the rest of us.

    Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

    By its very nature prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model – the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous, ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved.

    Many of us have now finally wised up to the fact that the best avenue towards realistically dealing with drug use and addiction is through proper regulation, which is what we already do with alcohol & tobacco –two of our most dangerous mood altering substances. But for those of you whose ignorant and irrational minds traverse a fantasy plane of existence, you will no doubt remain sorely upset with any type of solution that does not seem to lead to the absurd and unattainable utopia of a drug free society.

    There is an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. If you are not capable of understanding this connection, then maybe you’re using something far stronger than the rest of us. Anybody ‘halfway bright’ and who’s not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding, that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem; it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand.

    No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, diminution of rights and liberties, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer; only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    If you still support the kool aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, unemployment, foreclosed homes, and the complete loss of the rule of law and the Bill of Rights.

    “A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”
    Abraham Lincoln

    The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation while ceding control to the cartels and terrorists, regulation would mean the opposite!

  4. It’s a no-brainer for anyone who knows history. When alcohol Prohibition was eliminated, the record shows that violent crime—related to gangsterism and its control of alcohol—dropped significantly.

    Unfortunately, we’ve been flooded with propaganda, mostly from ill-informed and prejudiced lawmen (Harry J. Anslinger, for one) for more than 70 years. It will take a concerted effort of well-informed marijuana advocates to turn the tide.

    Meanwhile, individuals such as my friend Charles C. Lynch (friendsofccl.com) face harassment and prison time for promoting and selling perfectly harmless and (in California) legal medication. The local sheriff committed precious community resources to prosecute Charles. (Today, in fact, a benefit concert and barbecue is being held for Charles, who’s already filed for bankruptcy and faces losing his home as a result of the federal government’s case against him.) It’s a huge waste of police time and money.

    Additionally, keep in mind that there are lawmen and people in the legal community who avidly support the legalization of marijuana. Judge Jim Gray (http://www.judgejimgray.com), for one, supports it and has written an informative book, “Why our drug laws have failed.” And there’s also Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php.

    Little by little, the tide is turning….

  5. Historic statewide initiative in California to legalize, control, and tax cannabis. Help build national support for the movement. Sign up on the website, join the campaign! taxcannabis.org

  6. It’s a no-brainer for anyone who knows history. When alcohol Prohibition was eliminated, the record shows that violent crime—related to gangsterism and its control of alcohol—dropped significantly.

    Unfortunately, we’ve been flooded with propaganda, mostly from ill-informed and prejudiced lawmen (Harry J. Anslinger, for one) for more than 70 years. It will take a concerted effort of well-informed marijuana advocates to turn the tide.

    Meanwhile, individuals such as my friend Charles C. Lynch (friendsofccl.com) face harassment and prison time for promoting and selling perfectly harmless and (in California) legal medication. The local sheriff committed precious community resources to prosecute Charles. (Today, in fact, a benefit concert and barbecue is being held for Charles, who’s already filed for bankruptcy and faces losing his home as a result of the federal government’s case against him.) It’s a huge waste of police time and money.

    Additionally, keep in mind that there are lawmen and people in the legal community who avidly support the legalization of marijuana. Judge Jim Gray (http://www.judgejimgray.com), for one, supports it and has written an informative book, “Why our drug laws have failed.” And there’s also Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php.

    Little by little, the tide is turning….

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