According to the Washington Post, there were more marijuana-related arrests in 2016 than there were violent crimes arrests – combined. That means that more people were arrested on charges related to weed than there were people arrested for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery combined.
We know there is a massive problem with mass incarceration in the US, and marijuana related offenses account for more than 5% (more than 1 in 20) of all incarcerated persons. Legalizing marijuana means reducing that number. It also means that our law enforcement officers can focus on violent crimes, on proper training, and on better internal support. Legalization means that we can regulate, tax, and create a new source of federal revenue in the United States.
In addition to the political gain from legalizing a drug that more than 50% of us have tried (and 44% of that number continue to use), we can dismantle and correct our current system that allows for drug lords, gangs, and international cartels to profit. If Americans have legal access to marijuana, they no longer have a need to buy from drug dealers. Marijuana is the world’s most popular drug, and Americans consume 22% of it worldwide – that’s a pretty big hit to drug dealers, and a massive source of revenue for our nation.
Not all marijuana users do so as a hobby, many use the drug to help with stress and chronic pain. Past scientific studies have suggested many health benefits of THC but as of yet we have not been able to do comprehensive and legitimate research to find out the extent that THC can help those suffering from medical ailments. Legalization would provide an opportunity to fund research and to find new ways that we can help every day Americans without risking legal trouble.
Legalizing, alone, however, is not the answer. We must implement a system to regulate and tax it, as well as account for the millions of Americans in prison for possession and/or distribution. The following outline is a system that I believe can account for all the moving parts:
- Complete legalization of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older.
- Regulation of product (safety and quality)
- Taxation of product (same as alcohol)
- Marijuana would be regulated by the ATF
- Remove any regulations on financial transactions on marijuana (treat it as cigarettes and alcohol in terms of taxes)
- Manufacturing, growing with the intent to distribution, would need a license.
- Incarcerated persons charged with possession to be released
- Possession with intent to sell will be re-tried in court and sentences will be adjusted accordingly
- Independent committee (through the department of justice) would review cases and make determinations of release (committee budget paid with taxes earned through regulation)
*All Federal Law dictates federal prisons
**Inmates in state prisons could be re-sentenced using this independent task force the state would have to direct and the attorney general would have to work with this committee.
Want to help legalize marijuana? Then don’t stand on the sidelines one moment longer – get involved in our campaign today!
All marijuana usage data is from:
Michelle Moroney works with the Nick Schiller for Congress campaign as a political coordinator. She is a graduate of the James Madison College of Public Affairs at Michigan State University and has worked on various social justice projects both in the United States and Australia.