All Articles Tagged "marijuana legalization"
Legalizing Weed? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That! John Legend And Others Agree With Obama’s Marijuana Stance
John Legend, Russell Simmons, Danny Glover, Brad Pitt and filmaker Eugene Jarecki released joint statements in praise of President Barack Obama’s evolution on the enforcement of marijuana legislation on Wednesday, agreeing with Obama’s assertion that “we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
The president was discussing recreational marijuana use in Colorado and Washington, two states that legalized recreational pot use by adults.
Pitt and company — executive producers of the Jarecki-directed film “The House I Live In” — released the following statement:
Read more at EurWeb.com.
America outpaces every country in the world in the number of people it incarcerates. Many of those responsible for the ballooning prison population are low-level drug offenders. Since the majority of prisoners are characterized as non-violent offenders, critics of drug prohibition assert that because the “war on drugs” has been such a failure and has forced states and the federal government to spend billions of dollars on drug interdiction at the expense of other priorities such as education and infrastructure; the question becomes, why has the government not seriously considered legalizing drugs given the perceived benefits of legalization such as regulating consumption and taxation of the drug economy to name a few?
Several states such as California and Oregon have recently decriminalized marijuana use, but none have gone so far as to legalize drugs. Cook County officials in Chicago are taking steps to decriminalize marijuana possession as well. In total, about twelve states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, and 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical use of marijuana since 1995. The states that have decriminalized marijuana possession each have disparate laws governing drug policy. As a result, this creates quite a bit of confusion for those attempting to interpret drug policy.
To understand this debate it is instructive to delve into a little history on various efforts to legalize drugs and to examine the arguments for and against drug legalization and then conclude with what many believe is the single most salient reason why drugs have not been legalized—drugs are too profitable and too many people jobs depend on the drug economy.
The Harrison Act of 1914 and the marijuana tax act of 1937 were some of the earlier laws on the books, which made drugs illegal.
Key laws, which govern drug policy, now include the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970. This act has been amended at least a dozen times or more. The Food and Drug Administration and the Cosmetic Act are additional extant acts, which govern drug policy. These acts govern herbal preparations, and the laws regulating alcohol and tobacco.
The debate surrounding legalization of drugs is convoluted but those against drug legalization assert that marijuana has proven to be a gateway drug and cite the fact that there is a relationship between marijuana use and addiction to harsher drugs such as crack and heroin. Other arguments against decriminalization include:
The belief that once drugs are legalized, usage will increase
Decriminalization sends conflicting messages to impressionable young people.
Legalization would expand the use of drugs and increase addiction.
It would de-stigmatize illicit drug usage.
Legalization would make harmful addictive drugs more affordable, available and accessible.
Crime, violence and drug usage go hand-in-hand.
Counter arguments include: the drug war has been a complete failure. An Op-Ed in the Economist captures the arguments for drug legalization:
Legalization would not only drive away the gangsters; it would transform drugs from a law-and-order problem into a public health problem.
Governments would tax and regulate the drug trade and use the funds raised to educate the public about the risks of drug taking and to treat addiction.
Legalization offers the opportunity to deal with addiction properly.
By providing honest information about the health risks of different drugs, and pricing them accordingly, governments could steer towards the least harmful ones.
Prohibition seems even more harmful, especially for the poor and weak of the world.
The pro and con arguments regarding drug legalization pale in comparison to the money argument, which posits that legalization has been hampered by the fact that too much money is being made off drug enforcement to legalize drugs. Harvard Professor Henry Blodgett contends that legalizing drugs would help the government reduces its expenditures by $41.3 billion a year on enforcement and prohibition. Another byproduct of legalizing drugs according to Blodgett is that drug legalization would yield tax revenue of $46.7 billion annually. Given the contentious debate surrounding lifting the debt ceiling and reducing the deficit, legalization would seem to be an excellent strategy for the neoliberal conservatives who champion free market policies and zero government spending.
The United States budget deficit was $1.29 trillion for fiscal year 2010. Consider that $48.7 billion in 2008 was the cost of drug prohibition; $6.5 billion spent from 2000-2005 to disrupt international drug trafficking; $6.2 billion in 2007 to imprison drug offenders; $3.4 billion in 2009 spent on drug treatment and treatment research; $2 billion from 2005-2009 spent on counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan; $1.7 billion from 1998-2010 spent to influence adolescents with the media; $268 million in 2007 spent on aviation units in conternarcotics operations; and $74.8 million in 2007 spent on installation of wiretap devices for drug investigations.
The above spending illustrates the fiscal commitment made to drug prohibition. If drug were legalized, judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and police officers to name a few groups would potentially lose their jobs. Too many agencies and livelihoods are tied to drug prohibition. Finally, throw in asset forfeiture; the ability of agencies to confiscate assets allegedly acquired as a result of crime and it becomes very obvious that profits from drug prohibition are the most salient reason why drugs have not been legalized.
Byron E. Price is an Associate Professor of Political Science in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and the author of Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?
The country couldn’t have just ended Black slavery, it had to first fight a war for it first. Women couldn’t just get the right to vote; they had to protest in the streets and wait for a constitutional amendment to be passed in order for the country to recognize equality among the genders. And when we wanted to pass universal health care in this country, well we are seeing how A$$-backwards this process turned out to be. In all of these incidences, the obstruction, as I see it, always seemed to land squarely on the political maneuvering from a select few, who seeks to stigmatize and manipulate what should be the most obvious solution to an injustice for the purpose of financial or political gain.
Let’s take for example the so-called decriminalization of cannabis aka marijuana aka pot, which has occurred in certain locales like Cook County in Illinois and Philadelphia. Decriminalization, for all intents and purposes, is the lazy step-child to legalization. Under the auspicious nature of reducing punishment, related to possession of small quantities of marijuana, as a misdemeanor charge, those convicted could see a wide variety of penalties from probation and mandatory Urinalysis Test to punishments of 30 days in jail or a fine up to $1, 000.
Since decriminalization still means that you can’t legally sell or use the herb, you still can be denied employment and other services, as misdemeanor conviction remains on your record and available to the public for three years before it can be expunged. Even though you might not go to jail (at least in the short term) if caught with some weed in your possession, you are likely to be subject to civil courts, which in some instances could lead back to a criminal case if you fail to follow through on your civil obligations. And while the majority of Americans would like to end this costly and unnecessary criminalization of marijuana alltogether, the reality is that cannabis prohibition in the United States generates $7.7 billion annually, which means that the street dealers and traffickers aren’t the only ones making money from the black market.
In New York City, pot-smoking residents, who have been caught with small amounts of marijuana, or who have simply admitted to using it, have found themselves ensnared in civil child neglect cases in recent years. And even though possession of small quantities of marijuana is only a misdemeanor, which is punishable through civil fine in NYC, young black men are still finding themselves targeted and hauled off to jail for marijuana possession in high numbers through “reasonable suspicion” programs such as Stop-and-Frisk.
Last year, Philadelphia implemented a new pot diversion program, which would turn small quantities of marijuana possession from criminal to civil misdemeanors. But while pot smokers won’t face criminal charges, they will still be handcuffed, arrested/detained, fingerprinted and forced into court ordered treatment classes in order to avoid criminal prosecution and have their record expunged. Even in California, which has become the blueprint for decriminalization for medical usage, depositaries and smokers alike are subjected to arrest, searches and otherpunishments. In all of these instances, the policy shift of decriminalizing marijuana to lower offenses had done little to reduce the targeting of pot-smokers. Rather the real beneficiary is the courts and treatment centers, which stand to make a bit of extra cash from court-order treatment and civil fines.
While I understand that decriminalization is better than the failed criminalization the country has engaged in for the last three decades, I can also recognize that decriminalizing is no substitute for actual legalization. Despite the growing appeal for municipalities to lessen penalties associated with marijuana, we have not seen reduction in political indifference towards the prevalent prosecution, racial profiling and pre-tenancy drug testing for employment and government assistance. Instead the people have been pacified into believing that we are making progress in this failing drug war, when all we are doing is using covert ways to continue fighting it.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
(The Star- Ledger) — Gov. Chris Christie said today he has directed the state health department to “move forward as expeditiously as possible” with the state’s medical marijuana program he put on hold in April, while awaiting for assurances from federal law enforcement officials that state employees and licensed growers would not be vulnerable to prosecution. Christie said he never got a clear answer from federal officials. But after analyzing a memo from the U.S. Justice Department last month, reading comments President Obama made when he was a presidential candidate in 2008, and reflecting on his own experience as the former U.S. Attorney, he said going ahead with the program was worth however small the risk.
(The Root) — Montel Williams, who has suffered from multiple sclerosis for 10 years and uses marijuana to relieve his chronic pain, is canvassing the country in support of legislation that would make this practice legal. This week, the former talk-show host made an appearance in Maryland, and appealed to lawmakers in Delaware. Both states have recently introduced medical-marijuana legislation.
by Alexander Cain
Headlines focused on legalizing both medicinal and recreational marijuana have been swirling around for the past few years. Small doses of medicinal marijuana have been legalized in some states such as California, however the idea of legal marijuana hasn’t been accepted throughout the country. While the associated health benefits are still being researched, many people are thankful for the chance to be able to use this medication to treat their various medical conditions. Amongst the small amount of states who have legalized medical marijuana, there has been a surge in the amount of entrepenuers looking to tap into this industry.
As reported in SmartMoney, the medicinal marijuana industry is booming. Currently, fifteen states and the District of Columbia allow medicinal marijuana with three states approaching approval by 2011. With 43,000 estimated dispensaries spread throughout the United States, many people are interested in tapping into this market early in the hopes of catching all the profit if marijuana is legalized.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 44 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizalition of the drug, doubling the total percentage from 15 years ago. Popularity of the drug is soaring and what’s at stake has many venture capitalists and investors interested: $36 billion dollars, the estimated worth of the marijuana illegal industry. Many states are examining the legalization and taxation of marijuana as a way of coping with growing deficits. While the marijuana industry could potentially offer investors great returns, the industry is volatile due to government regulation’s influence.
As part of the decision to allow for medicinal marijuana, all dispensaries are required to file as non-profits instead of for-profit industries. This means dispensaries are facing tougher restrictions on profit-sharing and face greater expectations for community outreach. Many current dispensaries offer community outreach including addiction counseling and offer free weed to the ailing poor. Marijuana is still a very unstable industry and is only one government intervention away from disappearing, but the profit is still there.
Smale Deangelo, owner of a small dispensary in Maine, estimated his earnings as much as $50,000 a day. Many people anxiously wait for marijuana to be legalized. While there doesn’t seem to be any signs of legalization within the next two to three years, there are signs of progress. Marijuana will continue to thrive as part of a sub-economy throughout the United States. Illegal or not one thing is for certain, someone will continue to profit from this plant.
(Politico) — The nerve center for this year’s highly publicized movement to legalize marijuana is in a neighborhood known as Oaksterdam, where medical marijuana dispensaries — and doctors who sign permission slips to patronize them — have replaced the rundown, riot-ravaged buildings of this city’s downtown.
Proposition 19, the California initiative that will legalize recreational marijuana use and will be voted on by state residents in the November 2nd election, may radically change California’s economy and its incarceration rates. If the initiative passes, individuals will be allowed to use and grow the plant for personal use. Local governments will be responsible for regulating and taxing the product.
Recent poll numbers indicate that the initiative has a strong chance of passing; however, marijuana use is still prohibited by federal law and, therefore, a yes vote will most likely be stalled in courts for an extended period of time.
Supporters of the initiative say that marijuana is California’s largest cash crop. bringing in more than twice the revenue of vegetables. “Pot is, after all, California’s biggest cash crop, responsible for $14 billion a year in sales, dwarfing the state’s second largest agricultural commodity — milk and cream — which brings in $7.3 billion a year, according to the most recent USDA statistics,” wrote Alison Stateman for a Newsweek article.
How do you think legalization in California will primarily benefit the state?
Legalization will save our economy, create new jobs and redirect law enforcement to more important tasks.
Will it be more of an economic benefit or crime reduction benefit?
California is broke and police budgets are undergoing huge cuts. Eliminating marijuana enforcement and emptying our jails of pot related inmates will have a huge benefit in keeping California functioning with such drastically reduce police services.
What has propelled this recent push to legalize marijuana? Is it that the statistics are overwhelmingly supportive of legalization?
Most of the credit should go to Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University. Rich put up $1 million to make this all happen.
If it is legalized in California, how do you think that California’s experience will impact the rest of the country?
I do not believe Prop. 19 will pass. We don’t have the right demographics in a midterm election and we’re not polling where we need to be, for me to have much confidence we can win. However, Rich and his team are doing a great job and I hope they will prove me wrong. Unfortunately, even if it does pass, I do not see the federal government accepting such an initiative and I think it will be very ugly for awhile.
What do you think of Oakland’s recent passing of a measure allowing for the cultivation of medical marijuana by large-scale factories?
It really is astonishing to see adults participating is this mass hallucination. The DEA will ignore Oakland, cite federal law and destroy these warehouses. Even if, by some miracle, these large-scale factories are allowed to operate, they will face a great deal of hostility from patients and dispensaries who are doing fine without such factories and don’t want them.
(New York Times) — Ron Allen says he knows all too well the ravages of drug addiction. “I was a pastor on crack cocaine, sir,” said Mr. Allen, who says he has been sober for 11 years and now identifies himself as the bishop of the International Faith Based Coalition here. “Drugs have no religious preference.” And while crack cocaine laid him low, Mr. Allen says his first drug of choice was marijuana.
(BET News) – The California chapter of the NAACP is announcing its support for a marijuana legalization ballot measure, saying current laws unfairly target people of color. The group plans to highlight findings at a news conference Tuesday that it says show young people of color have faced a lopsided number of arrests for low-level marijuana crimes.