Legalize It?
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Legalize It?
Posted by CN Staff on August 13, 2010 at 04:58:56 PT
By Steven Craig
Source: Summit Daily News
USA -- Should legislative policy always reflect the majority position on a given issue? Must the criminal penal code reflect the perspective of the general will, or do legislators have a duty to vote their conscience?These questions have gained greater relevance with data from a recent Rasmussen Reports poll that shows that 43 percent of Americans favor legalization of marijuana, not just for medical purposes but for general recreational use. While this number does not constitute a strict majority, it does represent a plurality with only 42 percent currently opposing such a change to the nation's drug policy. With 15 percent still undecided on the issue, this is the first time support for marijuana legalization has outnumbered its opposition.
So what exactly do we do with this information? Should the federal government finally “legalize it,” as Peter Tosh urged in his 1976 song? While there may indeed be a case to be made for legalization, legislators should cast their vote not based on public support but on what they believe best serves the public interest.Certainly there is a case to be made for marijuana legalization. Basic civil liberties and the American notion of freedom alone should preclude prohibiting an activity that harms only the participant. Furthermore, there is substantial evidence that marijuana use is far less harmful and addictive than alcohol and tobacco products that are legal. Finally, what has propelled much of the momentum for marijuana legalization has been the prospects of taxing the substance in order to bolster state coffers at a time when they desperately need the help. The website estimates tax revenues generated by legalization could top $778 million. This would be in addition to the savings derived from lowering the $14 billion spent on enforcing drug policy (legalizing marijuana would take out only a dent from this budget) and the cost of dealing with the over 700,000 arrests annually for mere personal possession.There is a downside, however. In addition to the basic health issue, there are social costs associated with recreational marijuana use, many of which are difficult to tabulate. There are the health care costs, the loss of worker productivity, and the increase of crime currently seen around dispensaries. This is what makes being an elected official so difficult. They must carefully perform a social cost/benefit analysis for any potential legislation based upon the arguments mentioned above.What should concern all of us, regardless of our stance on this issue, is the basis upon which these decisions are actually being made. As public support has increased, some legislators have finally displayed a willingness to move forward on the issue, though the dynamics of the debate have not shifted that prominently.Worse than blindly following public opinion, however, is blithely ignoring it due to the more tempting influence of corporate lobbying. Marijuana legalization would significantly impact the sales of alcohol or tobacco, so it is hardly surprising that these industries spend millions to prevent any potential legislation. In 2009 alone, these industries each spent roughly $20 million on lobbying, with $3 million coming just from Anheuser-Busch. Only with the legalization of medicinal marijuana in some states has the marijuana industry been capable of a comparable lobbying influence.And so we are left in some sort of ambiguous legal limbo. Here in Summit County it takes a lesson in civics to comprehend the layering of federal, state and local legislation and how they impact each other, leaving the police in an increasingly untenable situation. Wherever your position, it is important we urge our elected officials to grapple with this issue and then move forward with a comprehensive legislative policy that is in the best interest of the people.Steven is a Silverthorne resident, educator, husband and father of two, and vice president of the Summit County Library Board. Newshawk: The GCWSource: Summit Daily News (CO)Author: Steven CraigPublished: August 12, 2010Copyright: 2010 Summit Daily NewsURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on August 19, 2010 at 20:10:02 PT
why Florida's law remains one of the most punitive
Money. Money for the so called, "Good guys" and money for the so called, "Bad guys". Lots and lots of money. It's a huge game of greed and vice that isn't helping anyone but the afore mentioned "Guys". It doesn't help the regular citizens that are just trying to survive and maybe enjoy life when they can. It doesn't help those that are grinding out their income to the above mentioned "Guys"... in the form of taxes, fines, punishing, and imprisoning, and, of course... black market purchases.*sigh*
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Comment #9 posted by rchandar on August 19, 2010 at 19:42:53 PT:
With Bitterness
I'd like to congratulate all the states that managed to pass and implement medical marijuana. All of 'em.Life continues to be a damn shame in the "Sunshine State." Florida's got to be about the most retarded and stupid place on this earth. You would THINK that by now, someone would've thought of chucking the old system written back in '51. On a daily basis, the problem is pretty vexing.You would think that a diverse place with such famous liberals and liberal elites such as Florida would've adopted a more sensible marijuana policy. Try to explain to other folks why Florida's law remains one of the most punitive--more so than Mississippi, or Oklahoma, or Missouri. I'm getting sick and tired of living here while change is abundant in this new world.We couldn't even get a measure on the ballot. Instead, our politicians think they're "protecting our children" by axeing headshops and by lowering the plant limit for felony distribution charges. I'm getting sick and tired of this Old South crap. God willing, there will be a day when I will find another place to live.--rchandar
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on August 19, 2010 at 05:32:11 PT
Good LTE - Legalize ... all of it
Legalize ... all of itRe. “Legalize it” by Steven Craig, opinion, Aug. 12
In his usually thoughtfully done column, Steven Craig claims our elected politicians will have a tough job using some complicated “social cost benefit analysis” to decide whether legalizing pot would be in the best interest of the “people.” It ain't that hard, Steve! If your piece's header was “Allow It?” that would imply the allower actually had some legal right to decide what's best for each individual in “the people.” Our rulers don't. Indeed, what kind of control freak would even want to dictate to you what you could eat or drink? If she openly claimed that right and you had voted her in, you'd deserve her! Our forefathers wrote a Constitution and Bill of Rights to protect each individual from government officials who even imagined they had some right, let alone a duty to decide things like what each of us puts in his mouth! The founders knew their job was to enforce individual rights and freedom. Now … of course all drugs from meth to heroin to Lipitor should be legal and freely available without doctor or government permissions now as they were for 150+ years from the republic's beginning. Let's end the insane drug war now and save billions of wasted dollars and thousands of lives. How did we manage all those years to become the leader of the world? How did we get along without the DEA, FDA, licensing of doctors, lawyers, hospitals, insurers, businesses? Answer: Darn well, indeed. Individuals took care of themselves and demanded to be left alone by severely limited government. No bureaucrats/meddlers were needed nor permitted to be Allowers/Deciders because the framers knew there was no “public interest” — only individual interests which, if unfettered, were always matchlessly met by free market capitalism, not government force. Contrast that with today's socialist welfare-warfare state disaster, run by crooked politician/bankers and populated by servile Orwellian puppets!It's not too late to reestablish real freedom here again and get back to our roots … even in Summit County. In fact, it's our kids' and grandkids' only hope. But remember, if you want to be free you must allow others to be free too.
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Comment #7 posted by runruff on August 14, 2010 at 13:48:19 PT
"It's our turn, now."
I literally saw this in a vision over 20 years ago. With the full implementation of cannabis/hemp into our society, it will cause all industry to become local and over time decentralized wealth. I can clearly see the redistribution of wealth across the industrialized world. This threatens even the Rockefeller's, Rothschilds and the DuPont's. Thing is, they see this better than anyone and are bound by any means to stop it.
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Comment #6 posted by GeoChemist on August 14, 2010 at 04:29:33 PT
Cost Analysis
Victoria, Canada--(ENEWSPF)--November 19, 2009. Health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers, according to a report published in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal.
According to the report, "In terms of [health-related] costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user."This isn't that hard people....................
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on August 13, 2010 at 17:57:23 PT
You are on a roll!
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on August 13, 2010 at 17:15:14 PT:
I really get ticked off about this 'productivity' 
Bull scheisse .First off, the American worker wins, hands-down, any international contest in 'productivity'. Just one problem: who owns the yardstick used to measure that 'productivity'?The Investor Class, that's who. And that, there, is the crux of the problem.The Investor Class wants docile, obedient, fearful little Working Class drones, who'll die of exhaustion at their posts (or die from easily-treated medical problems which, all too often, cost more than the workers can afford to pay), with nary a moue of protest, while the Investor Class reaps the huge rewards of the Working Class literally working itself to death. This is what the definition of 'productvity' in America means.Now, when the workers have had enough of being treated like fungibles and sought to unionize to protect themselves, in the bad ol' days, the employers sent the goons in to maim and kill the workers, to 'put them in their place'. Now, they're much their predations: they threaten you with drug testing. Which, like any endeavor borne of human greed and avarice, (not to mention malice), carries with it its' own potential for abuse, such as, (either deliberately or accidentally) falsified results. The very threat of a false positive keeps many workers in line.So, when I hear that phrase 'productivity of American workers', I always ask: productive as compared to who? Compared to, say, people who enjoy Universal Health Care? Compared, to, perhaps, workers who's strong unions (that can shut down entire countries) force employers to make them give month long-vacations? Compared to, maybe, places where worker's rights are encroached upon by management only if management is feeling suicidally depressed? (Needless to say, how many Europeans get p*ss-tested?)It's been said with plenty of historical proof that the great engineering accomplishments of the late 18th and early 19th centuries in this country were literally created with the 'blood, toil, tears and sweat' of slaves. Well, the Civil War and the 14tyh Amendment may have officially abolished slavery as a social practice, but not as a commercial one. That practice is now in full effect, and to the Investor Class, every worker is a (insert 'N" word here).And this is why cannabis scares the crap out of the IC, and makes them pull out all the stops to prevent re-legalization...using that 'productivity' canard as part of their smokesctreen. Cannabis users tend to question authority partly because the herb allows you to relax and slide out of the squirrel cage the IC's want to weld you into. When you unwind, you see the monster in all its' horrific glory, and realize you've been had, and don't want to keep playing their game with a stacked deck anymore.And there's only one direction that that will lead to eventually, and that's the same kind of pro-worker, pro-citizen, anti-fascist, anti-corp-rat society that much of the rest of the civilized world enjoys. One that would not tolerate encroachments upon their liberties, and would react violently at the mere mention of the IC trying to. A society in which the IC would know their place.That's what re-legalization means, and why we have such a battle ahead of us. And why we must win, for the IC has had its' way for too long, and the world has almost been destroyed by it. It's our turn, now.
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Comment #3 posted by Storm Crow on August 13, 2010 at 10:21:08 PT
My response to the quote-
"There are the health care costs, the loss of worker productivity, and the increase of crime currently seen around dispensaries."Health care costs? From something that SLOWS cancer and MS? A herb that eases Parkinson's tremor, pain, IBS and Crohn's? Something that PREVENTS diabetic retinopathy- the major cause of blindness in adults? I think health care SAVINGS would be more like it! (Read the new "Granny's MMJ List- July 2010" for the studies.) Loss of worker productivity? This is from a 1985 study, so it's not exactly recent news! - "Operant acquisition of marihuana by women.""There were no marihuana dose-related effects on operant performance. The heavy, moderate and occasional marihuana smokers did not differ in operant purchase points earned, hours worked or money earned."And the crime level goes up, you say? Well, apparently not everyone thinks so, according to this article-"LAPD chief: Pot clinics not plagued by crime" think I'll take the word of a police chief over the author's! After all, who'd know best about crime levels? Nope, that quote just doesn't "fly"! 
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on August 13, 2010 at 07:58:47 PT
falling for fallacy
agreed DG it couldn't be more simple.The author is making a very tenuous assumption that the repeal of prohbition (sorry, I won't say the "L" word which is has been loaded with negative connotation from 100 years of propaganda) will lead to an increase in use.This is not borne out by Holland and the other countries that repealed criminal prohibition.  In fact we know what's happened there, usage by minors is FAR lower than in prohibition countries.
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on August 13, 2010 at 07:23:53 PT
It's not that complicated. 
"Should legislative policy always reflect the majority position on a given issue? Must the criminal penal code reflect the perspective of the general will, or do legislators have a duty to vote their conscience?"Conscience? Not necessary, as few politicians have that anyway. How about Constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? That should do it.Legalize it. The down side? ....."There are the health care costs, the loss of worker productivity, and the increase of crime currently seen around dispensaries."I say prove it. We've all heard that many times when calling for medical or recreational cannabis. At this point in time, the research finally bears us out. So how about the ongoing anti's arguments? "The health care costs" of recreational cannabis? Prove it. This is clearly a guess on prohibitionists part. There is no evidence."the loss of worker productivity?"...Prove it. This is purely based on stereotype. Cannabis users are not by association less productive than anyone else."increase of crime currently seen around dispensaries"...Prove it. Increase from what, when it was an empty storefront? Increased over crime levels at convenience stores? Banks? Currency Exchanges? Pharmacies? I don't buy it. Prove it.
Furthermore, you can not have a discussion about crime related to cannabis without addressing crime in the black market, which exists despite medical marijuana laws, because the recreational market is still prohibited. This debate is done. Put a fork in it. It is no longer defendable to prohibit cannabis. 
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