Over in the New York Times TImothy Egan makes some excellent arguments in favor of a federal hands-off approach to the marijuana legalization initiatives that passed in Colorado and Washington a few weeks ago.
Usually Republicans and other conservatives look down on NY Times opinion pieces, but "Give Pot a Chance" should appeal to people all across the political spectrum.
Social revolutions in a democracy, especially ones that begin with voters, should not be lightly dismissed. Forget all the lame jokes about Cheetos and Cheech and Chong. In the two-and-a-half weeks since a pair of progressive Western states sent a message that arresting 853,000 people a year for marijuana offenses is an insult to a country built on individual freedom, a whiff of positive, even monumental change is in the air.
Right on, brother.
Here in Oregon our voters turned down Measure 80, an attempt to legalize marijuana that was considerably looser (less regulation, fewer limits on personal use) than what passed in the other states. However, it still got 47% of the vote, even with virtually zero money put into campaigning for it.
Following Measure 80 spokesman Roy Kaufmann's interesting twitter tweets (@roykaufmann), I learned that the libertarian movement was supporting the marijuana legalization initiatives.
Like Egan said, criminalizing marijuana use, which is much less harmful or dangerous than alcohol and many legal substances, is an affront to individual freedom. So the don't tread on me side of conservatism, a large bunch of Americans, should oppose the DEA swooping in and asserting their right to keep marijuana illegal under federal law.
On the liberal side, support for letting Colorado and Washington do their thing will be equally strong or stronger. Personally, I'll be deeply irked at Obama if he fails to allow states to experiment with legalizing marijuana. Which hopefully will include Oregon soon.
If Obama did that, l'd still support his second term agenda. But when those entreaties come in from Obama for America asking me to email, phone, facebook, twitter, donate, or whatever for some policy cause, I'll keep in mind Obama's stance on marijuana.
It's tough to think of any good reasons to continue on with what we're doing now. Egan makes that clear.
In two years through 2011, more than 2,200 serious illnesses, including 33 fatalities, were reported by consumers of nutritional supplements. Federal officials have received reports of 13 deaths and 92 serious medical events from Five Hour Energy. And how many people died of marijuana ingestion?
Of course, just because well-marketed, potentially hazardous potions are legal is no argument to bring pot onto retail shelves. But it’s hard to make a case for fairness when one person’s method of relaxation is cause for arrest while another’s lands him on a Monday night football ad.
...Already, 18 states and the District of Columbia allow medical use of marijuana. This chaotic and unregulated system has resulted in price-gouging, phony prescriptions and outright scams. No wonder the pot dispensaries have opposed legalization — it could put them out of business.
...Washington State officials estimate that taxation and regulation of licensed marijuana retail stores will generate $532 million in new revenue every year. Expand that number nationwide, and then also add into the mix all the wasted billions now spent investigating and prosecuting marijuana cases.
...Obama is uniquely suited to make the argument for change. On this issue, he’ll have support from the libertarian right and the humanitarian left. The question is not the backing — it’s whether the president will have the backbone.