On election day Washington DC residents voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. But there is one major gotcha. Since Congress approves laws in DC it must approve this law. Unfortunately for the citizens of DC we now have a conservative Republican majority in Congress who most likely will keep the law as it is regardless of the feelings of DC residents. So DC may not get what they voted for; democracy in action?
POT is becoming increasingly accepted in various municipalities and states throughout our nation, just as with many other taboo issues such as LGBT rights, as social acceptance standards change and mythological perceptions are dispelled. It has been argued for decades that POT will lead to more serious drug abuse, but research has shown that this is no more true than alcohol leading to harder drugs. The harmful medical consequences and addictive effects of POT have been proven less damaging than alcohol and cigaret smoking and highs experienced by users to impair their senses far less than alcohol. As a matter of fact many doctors now recommend POT or cannabis for treating medical ailments and the relief of discomfort and side effects of chemo therapy. So all the myths about POT have been dispelled leaving only the social stigma and mythological falsehoods held by voters and politicians that need to be corrected.
In spite of POT still being illegal in many states and communities it is still widely used and sold. Law enforcement spends a sizable part of its budget and resources enforcing anti-POT laws. Drug cartels still fight vicious and bloody turf wars at much lost of life. There is still big illegal money to be made in cultivating and distributing this illegal yet relatively harmless drug. Prisons and courts are spending much precious time, resources, and money in trying and incarcerating users and distributors of this illegal substance. Taxes that could be collected from the legal sales of POT are not being collected.
So we have created a huge and expensive infrastructure of law enforcement and legal justice around a drug that is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco both of which are legal and medically quite harmful, addictive, and taking many lives daily. Where is the logic in spending tens of billions of dollars on a drug less harmful then alcohol or cigaret smoking yet not collecting a cent on taxes for its sale. I fail to see the logic of this economic black hole. It is already widely used and grown illegally yet enforcing the laws is costing lives and huge bucks. Aren’t there better things to use law enforcement resources on? Why must we persist in social myths when facts prove otherwise? Why must we risk live and fill our prisons with criminal who use or distribute a relatively harmless drug instead of collecting taxes on it? Where lies our common sense?
It is time to decriminalize it and treat it just as we do cigarets and alcohol. Make it illegal for minors and tax it as we do alcohol and tobacco. Let it be regulated so that its manufacture and distribution are controlled. Take the crime and big profits out of its illegal use and sale. We need law enforcement to focus much more on serious crimes such a rape, burglary and robbery, murder, and the myriad other serious and dangerous crimes. Billions of dollars are spent annually on costs with no revenue opportunities that could better be spent on education just enforcing these senseless marijuana laws. It is time to stop this nonsense.
As a side note I do not smoke, drink, use marijuana, or other illegal narcotics. For me this is an issue of principle. We need laws to maintain order and deter harmful behaviors. This is simply not one of them.