Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good Reasons for Legalizing Marijuana?

Set aside for the moment that marijuana possession in small amounts is de facto decriminalized throughout most of America. Will legal sale and distribution of pot inevitably lead to a modern day Sodom and Gommorah?

Federal and state governments are starting to seriously consider whether the issue deserves another look as they search for more creative ways to raise revenue. Rather than spending an estimated $8 billion a year on marijuana law enforcement, shouldn't the government take on the role of regulating and taxing it just like liquor and cigarettes?

This was pointed up most recently by California governor Arnold Schwarzeneger when he broached the subject legalizing marijuana publicly in May. Asked if he favored legalisation, Schwarzenegger told reporters: "Well, I think it's not time for that, but I think it's time for a debate. I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues are worth considering. I think we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalised marijuana and other drugs. What effect did it have on those countries?"

What, indeed? A long list of countries where marijuana has been decriminalized include Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, most of South America and a large swath of Australia.

Meanwhile, in other countries where it is still strictly illegal, (on the books, at least) officials continue to vaguely admit that applicable marijuana laws are hardly ever enforced against casual users. Yet ALL countries where pot use is tolerated still have strict laws against its sale and distribution.

So why the disconnect between users and sellers? Isn't it time we ended the hypocrisy and begin now to regulate and sell pot to help stimulate a billion-dollar farming industry instead of spending billions to fight the illegal drug trade? Police and court resources would be freed up for more serious crimes and drug dealers (including some terrorists) would lose most or all of their business.

Although real concerns about what effects marijuana might have on brain development teens and young adults, positive anecdotal evidence often refutes the traditional "sinful weed from hell" mentality associated with cannibis.

If that's not enough, medical reports published this year showed that alchohol had by far more harmful effects on neurological functions than marijuana. It may be the combined effects of hard research, and the practical considerations of bolstering a failed economy, will force another look at marijuana.

If not, we'll most likely continue down the same road as our forefathers during Prohibition. And we all know how that turned out. In his earliest days in office, FDR helped fix the banks, then legalized booze. How about legalizing marijuana?

More about legalizing marijuana around the Web:

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