Marijuana Decriminalization From Sea To Shining Sea
From sea to shining sea, the United States is decriminalizing marijuana.
The recent announcement on a bill to expand the legal use of medical marijuana in North Carolina has led to much speculation as to whether more states will follow suit. Perhaps the better question is, when? With cities in fiscal crisis across America, and a growing need for revenue, many see the decriminalization and taxation of marijuana as a possible solution. Meanwhile, the cost of enforcing marijuana laws places a crippling strain on the treasury. Slowly but surely, public pressure is trending towards an end to marijuana prohibition.
The ban on marijuana began in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Stamp Act. The federal government declared that all marijuana sold in the United States should be stamped, and simply refused to issue the stamps, effectively banning the drug. Over the following decades, stronger bans were enacted, culminating in a schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Marijuana shares this classification with cocaine, heroin, LSD, and ecstasy among other potentially deadly substances. Former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders has publicly stated that death by marijuana overdose is a practical impossibility and even called for legalization in 2010.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was founded in 1970 with a grant from the Playboy Foundation. After a couple decades of unsuccessful attempts at full legalization, there was an organizational shift towards the promotion of medical marijuana in key progressive states. Medical marijuana is now available in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The industry generates over two billion dollars a year in sales. With full legalization achieved in Colorado and Washington, and the subsequent US Department of Justice pledge not to enforce the federal ban signal a fundamental shift in American drug policy.
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It is obvious that the administration wants to observe the effects of legalization in these test states before considering an end to the war on marijuana. I would like to humbly offer my prediction. First, there will be a marked increase in the sales of Cheetos, Reese’s Puffs, and peanut butter. Then three o ‘clock siesta will be implemented in the workplace and schools and bridges will be built with the tax revenue, employing teachers, architects, and contractors across the country. City treasuries will become flush with new funds from peripheral industries around the cultivation and distribution of the drug.
Criminal cartels will be deprived of a source of revenue, with the competition of a cheaper legal product. Farmers will grow rich on a new, fast growing cash crop. A new source of textiles will create an influx of cheap cloth for the American garment industry. The use of deadly drugs will decrease, as is shown in the Netherlands, where you can buy hash in a coffee shop.
Police will have increased resources with which to combat violent crime. Fewer students will be denied financial aid because of minor drug convictions. The United States would be a better place to live. I’m pretty sure that tie dye would make a comeback as well.
Opponents usually cite moral or religious grounds in their fight against legalization. The science simply is not on their side. Neither is history. The prohibition of alcohol led to the rise of the mafia. The prohibition of drugs has led to the rise of cartels. It is about time we learned our lesson and drafted a sensible drug policy in America.
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