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Should Marijuana be Legal? It is Time to Decriminalize Marijuana

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As a former police chief, I've seen firsthand how the current laws prohibiting marijuana don't actually prevent anyone from using the drug but do cause a number of other problems.

While keeping marijuana illegal saddles thousands of people every year with criminal records they don't deserve, the most harmful outcome caused by continuing to arrest people for marijuana is that there are many, many other things police could be spending their time on instead.

Consider that in the U.S., our overburdened police departments are unable to solve nearly four of ten murders, six of ten rapes and nine of ten burglaries.

Yet our prohibition laws lead to some 800,000 people being arrested on marijuana charges each and every year.

When viewed this way, prohibition constitutes a grave threat to public safety.

Thankfully, Connecticut is taking a serious look at changing the marijuana laws this year under the leadership of Gov. Dan Malloy, who has called for decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce.

Besides allowing police officers on the streets to focus on more important things, ending marijuana prohibition would free up space in our overcrowded jails and save taxpayer dollars that should instead be going to improving our schools and roads.

According to Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron, Connecticut spends over $130 million enforcing its marijuana prohibition laws every year. In these trying fiscal times, we could sure use those additional dollars.

Thankfully, the public is more than ready to support the governor and those in the legislature who are pushing for much-needed reforms.

A Quinnipiac University poll released this month shows that Connecticut voters support decriminalizing marijuana by a 65-32 margin.

They also favor legalizing medical marijuana for those with doctors' recommendations -- another idea supported by the governor -- by a whopping margin of 79-17.

Both proposals have majority support across political parties and among all age groups.

When so many citizens -- including former law enforcers like me -- are calling for these changes to the marijuana laws, there's simply no excuse for politicians to continue the status quo.

While some might be afraid of the newness of change, no one can deny that what we've been doing simply hasn't worked.

Despite decades of reefer madness propaganda and harsh mandatory minimum sentences, 40 percent of Americans -- some 100 million people -- admit to having used marijuana in federal surveys.

Marijuana prohibition has worked out pretty well for one sector, though: the criminal gangs and cartels that control its currently illegal distribution and profits.

The Mexican drug cartels reportedly make up to 70 percent of their profits from marijuana sales alone, and the Justice Department says that they have already set up shop in 230 U.S. cities.

If we legalized and regulated marijuana sales, we could deal a bigger blow to these crime syndicates than law enforcement crackdowns ever can.

While the bill to decriminalize possession of marijuana in Connecticut won't stop the black market -- since it won't legalize and regulate sales of the drug -- it is still a huge step in the right direction toward righting the wrongs of prohibition.

Connecticut should join the 15 other states that have imposed a fine instead of jail time for marijuana possession.

It's the rare right thing to do that is also politically popular.

It's a win-win for legislators and the public alike.

News Hawk- Jacob Ebel 420 MAGAZINE
Source: newstimes.com
Author: John Lorenzo
Contact: Contact Us
Copyright: Hearst Communications Inc.
Website: Sunday debate: Should marijuana be legal? It is time to decriminalize marijuana
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