Recently, the electorates of Colorado and Washington voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The vote is, indeed, a point to cheer for. These are the first two laws that allow for legal marijuana usage, apart from using it for medical reasons. This is due to the fact that more Americans are accepting the point that marijuana legalization would actually benefit society.
For starters, it is a job creator. With the economic incentive to produce a product for a new market, businesses will expand their production to include the development of marijuana, new businesses will be formed to specialize in this drug, or both. This, of course, allows for natural economic stimulation from the private sector.
Also, the drug has the capacity to be taxed. When the product is produced by companies and purchased at marijuana dispensaries, state governments can impose a tax upon the drug, similar to the “sin tax” that is imposed on alcohol. Although Colorado’s new rule originally stated that the tax would go to public education, that rule was thrown out due to contradictions with the tax code, but in general, marijuana can supply much needed revenue to states.
Moreover, the drug would be much safer if produced by companies and regulated by the government. Because marijuana is grown and produced illegally and without oversight, the drugs are usually kept and handled in unsanitary conditions. With regulations, potentially from the Food and Drug Administration, marijuana would be kept in sanitary conditions, and the dosage levels would be kept universal.
Furthermore, marijuana does not kill. Current drugs that are on the legal market, such as cigarettes, tobacco, and alcohol, are all completely legal, and yet those drugs lead to many long-term ailments that are harmful to the individual, as well as society. I am not arguing the marijuana is void of danger, as it can kill brain receptors, which can impair learning. I am also not saying that those drugs should be made illegal, but the same rationale for making marijuana illegal simply falls flat on its face when we examine the blatant hypocrisy of the favoring of cigarettes and beer to pot.
Finally, marijuana legalization would reduce both the numbers of drug cartels and harmless Americans in prison. With thousands upon thousands of Americans going to jail each year due to the possession of pot, legalization would prevent future unnecessary lock-ups that cripple lives and families. Moreover, legalization destroys the primary purpose of marijuana drug cartels. If consumers have the capacity to purchase the drug legally, especially when it is safer to do so, it drops the incentive to trade with dangerous cartels. Let us not forget the amount of money that would be saved not having to go after as many drug cartels and locking up countless numbers of Americans.
With this reasoning in mind, the legalization of marijuana imposes benefits to society. The positive aspects do not come from the direct consumption of the drug, but rather, for the reduction in crime, the stimulation of the economy, and the added wealth of the nation.
Unfortunately for Washington and Colorado, though, their laws may get obstructed by the federal government.
President Barack Obama and his administration have been tough on medical marijuana dispensaries in the past, and there is no suggestion that the current drug policy is going to change anytime soon. That means that one would still be breaking a federal law when possessing and consuming pot, despite the individual state having the drug legalized. Due to our federalist system, federal laws trump state laws.
So what is the solution to this setback? The easiest way to grant marijuana rights without having unscrupulous investigations by the federal government is to pass a law on the federal level that legalizes the recreational use of marijuana.
The passage of recreational marijuana rights in Colorado and Washington are giant steps in the fight to legalize pot, however, the best course of action from here is to convince the U.S. Congress, and Obama, to examine the facts, and make the informed decision to legalize marijuana.
Ronald Dixon welcomes comments at [email protected]