Regulate, don’t criminalize marijuana
By: From Micky McGilligan, Two Harbors and James H. Manahan, Silver Bay, Lake County News Chronicle
Mexican drug cartels stand to lose as much as $1.4 billion in annual revenue due to legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, according to the Harper’s Index of Harper’s Magazine. A stunning number, but crime can be profitable.
Why not take those profits away from the criminals? Think about taxing that kind of revenue and creating jobs in the U.S. producing and processing marijuana and the paraphernalia that go along with it. What’s stopping us?
The “War on Drugs” that spreads myths and misinformation about marijuana use, that’s what. The war would have us believe that marijuana users are dangerous people doing damage to themselves and others; they are becoming dependent on it, and moving on to more dangerous drugs.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, 42 percent of American adults have used marijuana and most of them have never used any other illicit drug. Less than 10 percent of those who try marijuana ever meet the clinical criteria for dependence, while 32 percent of tobacco users and 15 percent of alcohol users do. There is no evidence that marijuana causes cancer or long term impairment of the cognitive process. Even the Netherlands, where exist the least punitive drug laws, fewer youth use marijuana than their counterparts in the U.S.
According to the FBI, 858,408 persons were prosecuted for marijuana violations in 2009. Eighty-eight percent of those were non-violent users, not drug dealers. Our government could save billions of dollars by ending the ineffective “war on drugs”. That money could be better spent on mental health treatment and regulating marijuana.
Legalization of medical marijuana in many states and complete legalization in two states tells me that it is time to stop prosecuting marijuana users and develop strong regulatory policies. Prohibition of alcohol created Al Capone, and prohibition of marijuana has created drug cartels. A humane country would treat marijuana the same as alcohol, putting criminals out of business and creating new opportunities for revenue streams.