- As a California resident, when I hear public policy news from my state making the headlines, it’s usually bad. This week was an exception. In November, California residents will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use. The initiative, Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would let people age 21 and older purchase, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants for recreational use.
Marijuana, to an extent, is legal in California. To buy marijuana, one only needs a medical card which is prescribed by a doctor. Residents can tell a doctor that they have one of many symptoms, and you can receive a recommendation for a medical marijuana card. The whole process does not take more than a short visit.
Marijuana legalization has many potential benefits. It can save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in spending on prisons and law enforcement. A study by the Tax Foundation found: “If all states legalized and taxed marijuana, states could collectively expect to raise between $5 billion and $18 billion per year. If marijuana is made legal, it will also drive down demand for importing it from Mexico, reducing the crime and violence that comes with the drug war there. There are also unseen benefits. It is difficult to find a job with a drug conviction. If persons are allowed to use marijuana freely without a drug conviction on their record, they may find employment more easily.
The War on Drugs disproportionately affects minority populations. Richard Nixon began the War on Drugs in 1971, calling drugs a major public enemy.Yet, his former domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman said recently, “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.” Not only did the War on Drugs fail, it incarcerated men and women, ripping them from their family, and forcing a cycle of poverty and oppression on everyone it touched.
This marijuana initiative is not perfect. If passed, it is expected to bring $1 billion dollars of revenue to the local and state annually.
It is laudable that California looks to take a step toward legalizing marijuana and embracing all the benefits of legalization. Whether it’s increasing revenues for a state or reducing its nonviolent prison population, marijuana legalization is a win for everyone.
Atlantic City has every reason to thrive. With legal gambling, coastal beaches, prime entertainment events, and fine dining, the resort town should be flourishing.
But as most of the country knows, Atlantic City is in decline.
Extremely expensive and extravagant casinos are closing while thousands of jobs are being lost. Human capital is leaving in droves and the once salubrious city is now more reminiscent of a ghost town with a beach motif. Mayor Don Guardian has even contemplated the city declaring bankruptcy.
Read the rest on The Daily Caller, here.
As the marijuana legalization movement builds up steam, prohibitionists are grasping at straws to defend an increasingly untenable status quo. The most recent argument for prohibition comes from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who claimed that marijuana was “infinitely worse” than tobacco.
Harper has hasn’t tried to hide his views on marijuana. In 2013, he sent out a mailer demonizing Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s support for marijuana legalization. The mailer claimed legalization would allow children to gain access to marijuana. This is highly misleading. Canadian teenagers already lead the world in per capita cannabis consumption. But his claim that marijuana is worse than tobacco is even more absurd, and it will hurt him in the polls.
Are there some dangers to marijuana smoking? Yes, of course. There are also dangers to tobacco use. But this does not justify prohibition of either substance.
Read the full article at CapX.
This summer, the Asbury Park city council joined the 53 percent of Americans who support legalizing marijuana, with a resolution citing both the economic benefits of legalization as well as the unnecessarily severe sanctions imposed on users of the relatively harmless drug.
Unfortunately, this is largely a symbolic gesture. Governor Chris Christie’s opposition to marijuana legalization is no secret. An Assembly bill introduced in 2014 would create a ballot initiative to remove all penalties for possession under one ounce. But the bill is unlikely to overcome Governor Christie’s expected veto.
Marijuana prohibition, it seems, will continue in New Jersey for as long as Christie is in the Governor’s Mansion, let alone the White House.
But there is still a lot Asbury Park, and other New Jersey municipalities, can do. While they may not be able to access millions of dollars in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales—like local governments in Colorado and Washington—they can dramatically reduce the human cost associated with marijuana prohibition by decriminalizing marijuana.
How are legalization and decriminalization different?
Read the rest on Watchdog.org here.