Cannabis News Marijuana Policy Project
  Marijuana Should Be Legalized, Subjected To Rules
Posted by CN Staff on September 19, 2009 at 17:42:13 PT
By Josh Kappel 
Source: Gazette 

cannabis Colorado -- Several states, including Colorado, have bucked the federal government and passed laws permitting the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.

Several towns and cities here in the Centennial State have gone a step further, instructing thier police officers to give the lowest priority possible to enforcing marijuana prohibitions. Mexico, in the throes of a violent drug war, recently decriminalized small amounts of marijuana and other drugs. Should we further ease marijuana restrictions in Colorado?

In 2003, Colorado Law enforcement apprehended one out of every 32 regular marijuana users. For every one ticket that was written, 31 people got off scot-free. If we extrapolate these 31 people to the population of Coloradans who use marijuana, we have roughly 300,000 regular marijuana users who face no legal consequences for buying, using and selling nonmedical marijuana.

For these 300,000 citizens, the Colorado marijuana market is the epitome of the free market. There are zero regulations. There are no quality or purity controls on marijuana. No age restriction limiting who can buy it. No potency warnings about how strong it is. No taxes. No advertising restrictions. No blue laws. No nutritional labels. No FDA warnings. No limits on safe THC/blood levels for driving. No zoning regulations about where it can be sold or grown. No tort liability on producers if the marijuana makes people sick, or if it is not really marijuana. The only thing that controls this marijuana market is the laws of supply and demand and the 3 percent chance of getting cited or arrested (which is usually reserved for the dumbest of marijuana users).

While marijuana is illegal in Colorado, it is very hard to argue that marijuana prohibition has actually furthered any conceivable purposes. Pragmatically, marijuana prohibition usually has the opposite effect of such purpose. This is because marijuana prohibition is nothing more than a lofty goal that can never be accomplished.

Absent a totalitarian state and the death of our Bill of Rights, it is impossible for law enforcement to completely eradicate a drug that is used regularly by at least 15 million U.S. citizens. For the past 70 years, they have tried and failed.

In effect, all marijuana prohibition has done is create a deregulated market. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, to regulate means to control by rule. I use the term “deregulation” to mean just that, a lack of control due to a lack of rules. This lack of control can be blamed for almost all of society’s problems that stem from marijuana use. If we really wanted to eliminate the societal problems stemming from marijuana use, we would regulate and control marijuana.

One societal problem with marijuana is teen use, especially teens that have a predisposition to substance abuse. Marijuana leads some youth to reprioritize their education or pass by opportunities in the name of getting high. Marijuana deregulation is the main cause of youth marijuana abuse because there are no laws regulating how old you have to be to purchase marijuana. For at least the past 10 years, marijuana has been the easiest drug for high school students across the country to obtain. A recent survey by CASA at Columbia University reported that it was easier for high school students to obtain marijuana than regulated drugs such as alcohol, cigarettes or pain killers. In fact, 40 percent of respondents claimed they could obtain marijuana within a day.

Marijuana deregulation has led to the widespread availability of marijuana among our nation’s youth. One reason alcohol and cigarettes are harder minors to obtain is because if a store sells to a minor, they will lose their license. These stores have an incentive to sell only to adults. There are no similar incentives for marijuana dealers. The only incentive they have is to not get caught. If we want to protect our children, we have to give marijuana dealers an incentive not to sell to them.

This cannot be done in a system of marijuana prohibition because we cannot take a license away if we do not give them out.

Another societal problem that correlates to marijuana use is crime. Marijuana use alone does not cause crime; in fact it is not positively correlated with domestic violence, aggressive behavior, or violent crimes. On the other hand, the deregulated marijuana market does attract crime, mainly because the deregulated market does not license businesses to sell marijuana. The lack of legitimate marijuana business has pushed the profits from this market into the hands of those who do not respect the rule of law. It is estimated that around 60 percent of the Mexican cartels’ operating budgets come from marijuana sales in the U.S. In Colorado alone, the marijuana market was conservatively estimated around $375 million dollars a year. This large amount of money not only funds organized crime, but attracts violence, robberies and murders because there are no laws in this deregulated market. If we were serious about reducing violent crime and stabilizing our southern border, we would regulate marijuana and license legitimate marijuana businesses.

A recent societal problem stemming from marijuana is large-scale marijuana growing operations in our national forests. This has led to environmental damages, forest fires, and has put unwary hikers on a collision course with armed growers. Once again, if we regulated where people could grow marijuana, they would not have to grow it wherever they could. Marijuana growing operations have been found in homes, parks, daycare centers, malls, abandoned buildings and national forests. This problem would be fixed if we had land use codes that zoned marijuana production.

If we really cared about protecting our children, reducing crime, saving our forests, and the solving whole host of other problems caused by marijuana deregulation, we would regulate and control marijuana. This can be done only by ending marijuana prohibition because we cannot give licenses, support legitimate business owners or make land use codes about marijuana production if it is illegal to possess marijuana.

Many proponents of marijuana prohibition would argue that if marijuana was regulated and controlled more adults would use it and this increased use far outweighs any societal costs of marijuana deregulation. Their argument fails on two grounds. First, there is no evidence to suggest that regulating marijuana would increase use.

Countries that have regulated or decriminalized marijuana have significantly lower marijuana usage rates than the U.S. For example, lifetime use of marijuana in the U.S. is around 42 percent, Holland 22 percent, Spain 28 percent and Mexico 8 percent. Any argument that marijuana regulation would increase is nothing more than speculation.

Second, even if marijuana use did increase among adults there would be a nominal increase in societal costs. If anything, domestic violence, sexual assault, aggressive behavior, and injuries requiring hospitalization would decrease because adults would have the safer alternative of using marijuana over alcohol.

There are countless other problems associated with marijuana deregulation. These problems will persist in society until we end marijuana prohibition. The media and drug war proponents will cite these problems as reasons that we need to increase our efforts in the war on marijuana. Their arguments are disingenuous.

If we really wanted to end the problems that stem from widespread marijuana use in our society, we have to regulate and control marijuana.

Kappel is a student at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.

Source: Gazette, The (Colorado Springs, CO)
Author: Josh Kappel
Published: September 18, 2009
Copyright: 2009 The Gazette
Contact: gtop@gazette.com
Website: http://www.gazette.com/
URL: http://drugsense.org/url/167WTwlr

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Comment #3 posted by museman on September 20, 2009 at 10:05:50 PT
B_S
"If we really cared about protecting our children, reducing crime, saving our forests, and the solving whole host of other problems caused by marijuana deregulation, we would regulate and control marijuana. This can be done only by ending marijuana prohibition because we cannot give licenses, support legitimate business owners or make land use codes about marijuana production if it is illegal to possess marijuana."

BullShit!!!!!

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

And just where, in this premise, is the statement; "and the government of the United States will charge an appropriate fee to ensure that only the economically qualified will get to enjoy these 'inalienable' rights?."?

If we really 'cared' about our children, we would be teaching them how to be loving, sharing humans, instead of ruthless competitive robots.

If we really 'cared' about our forests, we would stop the 'great white american redneck 'hero'' who has been clearcutting, dumping gas, oil, and other garbage into our watersheds, and raping our forests since William Randolph Hearst conspired with the MPCA (and others) to create cannabis prohibition, and a monopoly on the lumber industry. I dare say that the very real damage done to our forests in the last 100 years or so, makes the so-called damage of pot growing look pretty piddly.

And the 'host' of other problems would end by simply repealing the damn law, without all the corporate and economic hype trying to justify 'phase 2' of cannabis control.

BS:

"Absent a totalitarian state and the death of our Bill of Rights, it is impossible for law enforcement to completely eradicate a drug that is used regularly by at least 15 million U.S. citizens."

Its 'absent'? I'm fooled. The 'Bill of Rights' may not be dead, but if anyone thinks its not severely compromised, I know who you voted for in the last election.

I am about to make a very controversial statement.

Cannabis was created as a medicine for all ages. Ya did say in Genesis; "Behold I give you all herb bearing seed to be used as meat." There is no stipulation; "But only those over the age of 18 have the right to use it."

The myths of the dangers associated with cannabis, are all just that; myths. This constant throwback and reference to 'the children' has 'prohibition' written all over it.

Sugar is more dangerous to our youth than cannabis. Regulation sure saved that one right?

Let me be clear, I do not advocate wanton abuse of anything, but the hard truth is that it is actually (sans prohibition BS) really hard to actually abuse cannabis. You have to be in 'research' to find that.

There are so many holes in this article, I'd get my hands soiled if I had to wipe my ass with it.

LEGALIZE FREEDOM

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Comment #2 posted by christ on September 20, 2009 at 01:46:21 PT
Josh Kappel ...
This is one of the best articles I have read in years. My favorite quote was one I had never explicitly heard before,

"This (limited supply) cannot be done in a system of marijuana prohibition because we cannot take a license away if we do not give them out."

It reveals that the opposite of the "lock 'em up and throw away the key" approach is NOT to 'give up the fight', but rather to create a system that threatens a lasting penalty against those who sell to minors, as well as provides a competitive advantage--that further penalizes those who sell to minors--to those who follow societal norms of not selling to minors.

The second good point Josh made was the one in favor or zoning land use for cannabis production and sales.

The third great comment was that, "...prohibition is nothing more than a lofty goal that can never be accomplished."

Great article!

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #1 posted by Vincent on September 19, 2009 at 22:47:15 PT:

Legalization of Marijuana--Colorado Gazette
This was a very persuasive article, but then, I am easily persuaded. It says the things we all say. Should be required reading.

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