Posted: 03/06/14 14:54
by Dave Mindeman
The subject of marijuana has a lot of baggage that follows it. Especially with law enforcement.
The efforts to alleviate law enforcement fears in order to move on medical marijuana have become more tortured than they are worth.
Law enforcement will never be mollified because their attitude is entrenched in decades long cannabis drug policy that has been wrong from the beginning.
Marijuana is NOT a gateway drug. It is only involved with harder drugs because it has the same illegal status and is trafficked in the same way. Remove marijuana from the seedy methods of selling and it will cease to be identified with heroin or cocaine.
Marijuana does need to be regulated...and if we can find acceptable regulations that can make alcohol socially acceptable, then we can do the same for marijuana.
My view is that marijuana shouldn't be limited to just medicinal use. However, its use for nausea and pain are relevant enough that if we can get a restricted use for medical purposes, then we should accept that vehicle for its legalization.
The regulation and restriction that will be needed to specify it for that purpose alone will be cumbersome and lead to more needless penalties and legal ramifications - as well as more prosecutorial time that could better be served on more serious problems. But, if that is all that can be done right now, then so be it.
Governor Dayton has abdicated his decision making on this subject by deferring to law enforcement. But law enforcement has never moved beyond marijuana as a street drug. They cannot separate the drug from the criminal avenues from which it has to be sold under its current status. They have never accepted the ongoing medical evidence - they only see current legal issues.
The other factor that begs to be debated is the incarceration numbers on illegal marijuana....
....marijuana arrests now comprise more than one-half (approximately 52 percent) of all drug arrests reported in the United States. A decade ago, marijuana arrests comprised just 44 percent of all drug arrests.
Using this magnitude of law enforcement resources to fight against a drug that is hardly more dangerous than alcohol, makes little sense. How much money could we save by eliminating marijuana arrests, convictions, and incarcerations? I think the dollar figure would be staggering.
And that doesn't even account for the potential for jobs that would be available for the growth, manufacture, and sale of marijuana. As well as the tax revenue available to the states that allow legalization.
Colorado expects to take in about $184 million in tax revenue from marijuana in the first 18 months after legislation.
Minnesota needs to seriously debate this issue and hopefully find a way to move, at the very least, a medical marijuana statute.
This has too many medical, legal, and economic advantages to ignore.