We find ourselves back in Michigan today, where the question of decriminalization / legalization / tax and regulation is in play. There exists in America a large group of people who do not toke themselves but don’t care if we do, as long as we do so responsibly. In Michigan, one journalist member of this group has come out for us in a big way. His name is James Melton. His full story is found in the Huffington Post. Enjoy these tidbits:
Melton writes, “I am not a marijuana smoker and never will be . . .Except for some very sick people, weed is something to avoid . . .But just because an activity is foolish, that doesn’t mean we should pass laws against it and spend billions of dollars locking up the offenders. That’s especially true if prohibition creates a huge, violent black market for the thing being outlawed and generates costs out of proportion to any social good the ban produces. Such is the case with marijuana criminalization, and it’s time to an end to it.”
“Legal or not, people will use marijuana. That’s a fact. The real issue is not how we eliminate the pot business; we can’t. All we can realistically do is decide who to put in charge of it. It makes no sense to keep the pot trade in the hands of violent, unscrupulous criminal gangs when it could run by law-abiding citizens, taxed and regulated.”
“If we brought the marijuana trade out of the shadows and into the light, society could get at least a modicum of influence over what’s being puffed and by whom. Sure, we cannot entirely keep liquor, beer and wine out of the hands of minors. We won’t be able to do that with pot, either. But we can make it more likely that the stuff kids get their hands on meets basic standards for purity. As with liquor dealers, we also would create an incentive for sellers to be licensed and stay that way, producing a self-policing effect on the good ones.”
“Here in Michigan we have a chance to help America move toward a sane marijuana policy. An unregulated industry that now finances violence and corruption could begin putting tax money into state and local coffers. Legal jobs would be created. Jail cells now used to house marijuana offenders could be freed up to incarcerate people far more dangerous to society. Over-stretched law-enforce personnel could spend more time protecting the public from real threats. More importantly, a lot of really bad people would be cut out of a very lucrative line of business.”
“I will never be a marijuana advocate in the sense of actually encouraging people to use it. If every cent collected from marijuana taxes was used to fund anti-pot education, then that would be fine by me. But trying to stamp out marijuana use by making it illegal has failed. Another 50 or 60 years of doing the same thing is not likely to work out any better. It’s time to try a new approach.”
Greenies, Mr. Melton is the voice of the part of society that will decide the actual date on which we re-legalize. We need them to fall in love with us. We need lots of Mr. Melton’s to speak up now. It’s time to come out for cannabis.
[images: Google images Michigan state flag & salute]
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