The Paw Print
In a country where OxyContin and Adderall are regularly distributed as prescription medication (and subsequently flipped for good profit and bad addictions), my mind is boggled by regulations that prohibit the use of marijuana, medical or otherwise.
The only concern with weed as a “gateway drug” is that, in the process of procuring it, an otherwise abiding citizen may be introduced to more dangerous substances.
After watching a three part series on PBS, titled “Prohibition,” I was struck by the similarity of these two sets of regulations and their results. Perhaps history holds a lesson for us.
During the lifespan of the 18th Amendment, organized crime was born in the United States. People were not going to quit drinking, and the only way to fill this need was to produce liquor or smuggle it in. The law could not be enforced, and attempts to do so often resulted in violence.
After nearly fifteen years the amendment was appealed for a number of reasons. The fight was being lost. The Great Depression was in full swing. People wanted to drink without the risk of arrest or hazards produced by speakeasies and rotgut whiskey.
Sound familiar? The “War on Drugs” initiated by President Nixon 40 years ago has not been won. The economy is in the tank. Recreational users continue to expose themselves to threats created by illegal drug use and the culture surrounding it.
The country is spending something around 8 billion dollars annually to enforce marijuana laws.
In Colorado over 12,000 people were arrested on pot related charges in 2007, 94 percent of them for possession or use. The regulation of marijuana takes up law enforcement time and energy that could be better used stopping more serious offenders.
While the legalization of marijuana would not solve all of these problems, it would free up assets that could be used to help.
Legalization would save funding for other state government needs, allow pot to be taxed for additional revenue, help raise the respect for the police force, pull business away from criminal elements, and, as one of our most valuable cash crops, even provide a few honest jobs in a poor market.
Under the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, Coloradans have the opportunity to make this happen.
Not only would the act legalize “the personal use, possession, and limited home-growing of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older” it would set up “a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.” Provisions for hemp production would also be included.
Taking this step would help Colorado move ahead in a slow economy by saving and earning money. Officers of the law could focus on more important crimes, and citizens who wanted to relax with a joint could do so legally.
Editor’s Note: Support is necessary to get this act on the ballot in 2012. For more information visit regulatemarijuana.org.