Now that marijuana has come out of the closet, we are seeing a huge change recently. It has gone from being taboo to a subject of national discussion. You are seeing it everywhere. Articles about marijuana in the papers, on the National news. Reports about new states allowing medical or reducing penalties and detailed debates about the pros and cons of the plant.
Obviously this is good thing and the discussions are long overdue.
One of the trends that is developing however is a strong anti-marijuana backlash from prohibitionists, citing studies purporting to show the extreme dangers of marijuana and the horrible consequences for society as a whole as wide spread legalization takes hold.
While we know this is fear mongering it can be difficult to keep up with all the various arguments and to have relevant data to counter every study individually.
What I suggest is a different tact.
The issue is not whether to legalize and regulate, or how many medical dispensaries to permit, or how many plants to allow for home growing or how it’s going to cure cancer. The issue really should be what, if anything, should be done to the millions of people who use marijuana. Should they continue being subject to arrest and prosecution, and feel the full weight of the criminal justice system?
Should law enforcement resources continue to be expended pursuing small time Dealers or users?
If so, what are the consequences of that action? More waste, more corruption and no significant change in the availability or cost of marijuana.
In other words we should not be talking about the good or bad effects of marijuana, but we should be talking about the obvious bad impact of the War on marijuana.
We should be focusing on the cycle of money that fuels this War, The Byrne grants from the Federal government to local police agencies for every marijuana arrest; the money generated by the asset forfeiture laws.
This is the message of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). This is the best way to talk about the marijuana issue. How much of people’s money is being wasted needlessly? How many lives are being wasted? How many serious crimes are going unattended?
When we are debating the marijuana issue this is what we should be saying: “Regardless of how you feel about marijuana – We shouldn’t arrest people for it!” The punishment shouldn’t be more severe than the crime.
Let’s refocus the argument on the real problem – The War not the plant.