There are a number of reasons for legalizing marijuana, but in the current American debate, the most prominent argument is based on the fact that African Americans are disproportionately impacted by law enforcement. That is entirely understandable in the era of Black Lives Matter.
However, in his Senate confirmation hearing, Judge Merrick Garland, Biden’s choice for Attorney General, also pointed out that interfering with state marijuana laws is “not a useful use of limited resources.”
It is astonishing that even today we are still arresting half a million Americans annually for simple possession of marijuana. That is more than for all violent crimes combined. Is that the best use of finite criminal justice resources? Is that a Conservative value?
As we used to say, back when we could still go to the movies: This is where I came in.
In 1972, the first thing I ever wrote for publication was in the late William F. Buckley Jr’s National Review on why Conservatives should support the legalization of marijuana. It caused quite a stir. There it was on the cover: THE TIME HAS COME: ABOLISH THE POT LAWS
Even though he led with “The key to any nationwide legalization is to keep the free market out of it”, and that is not something one often sees in either Bloomberg or National Review, he explains that he only wants the government to control retail sales to prevent excessive commercialization that would encourage excessive use.
The pandemic has produced a number of social changes that we hope may last. An online Harris Poll sponsored by Curaleaf, a marijuana company, found that 45% of cannabis consumers age 21 and up have replaced or reduced their alcohol consumption with marijuana since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and one-third of those who use cannabis recreationally prefer cannabis to drinking alcohol.
Half of the respondents (50%) said they increased their use because cannabis helped them relax, and 48% said they did so to help them sleep. Of those who said they use marijuana recreationally, a third (33%) said that they prefer cannabis over alcohol.
Interestingly, parents are actually turning to cannabis at higher rates than those without children. Think of the children!
Really. “Parents struggling with alcoholism may be surprised or concerned after reading about the impact their addiction can have on their children now and through adulthood.”
Another recent poll commissioned by the Glass House Group found that a majority plan to replace alcohol with cannabis.
DrugWarFacts.org reports, “In 2017, 140.6 million Americans aged 12 or older were current alcohol users, 66.6 million were binge drinkers in the past month, and 16.7 million were heavy drinkers in the past month. Thus, nearly half of current alcohol users were binge drinkers (47.4 percent), and 1 in 8 current alcohol users were heavy drinkers (11.9 percent). Among binge drinkers, about 1 in 4 (25.1 percent) were heavy drinkers.”
The Associated Press reports, “A state district judge in Albuquerque has ruled this week that the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center should not penalize medical marijuana patients under its custody or supervision for using the drug.”
It is unclear whether other New Mexico jurisdictions will concur with the ruling, but it will inevitably be litigated nationally.
First, try to let’s understand the scope of our criminal justice problems.
‘The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,833 state prisons, 110 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,134 local jails, 218 immigration detention facilities, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.’
The US has less than 5% of the world’s population, but almost 25% of the world’s prisoners. We have arrested over 22 million Americans for simple possession of marijuana in the last 50 years. During that time the US prison population grew from 200,000 to over 2,300,000, mostly because of the Drug War.
Parents are understandably concerned about their children being “indoctrinated” as they are supposedly being “educated”, but the general public should also be concerned, especially when the government has been lying to everyone for decades about marijuana.
Decades of “Reefer Madness” with absurd claims about marijuana endangered children by undermining effective education about really dangerous drugs… and adults about really dangerous government. Over twenty two million marijuana arrests later, the political consequences are still being hidden from the American people.
For example, in a 2002 interview with the Baltimore Sun, John Walters, George W. Bush’s Drug Czar was asked about marijuana:
“It is by far the single largest factor in illegal drug addiction in the country. … The conventional view out there today is that marijuana is a soft drug, that marijuana is harmless and that it is not addictive, and there is no withdrawal. It’s not just a gateway drug. … If you are not talking about marijuana, you are not talking about the central part of the problem. (Emphasis added)