Each of you has suffered with my rants on how significant it is that mmj and legalization efforts are getting noticed in Arkansas. Both coasts of the nation are active, but the heartland has been harder to penetrate. That is changing. Here are some excerpts from the e-edition of the Tulsa World / Opinion on the issue of legalization. A long time ago Ed Rosenthal said that when prohibition falls it will come down en masse. Maybe he’s about to be proved right. When the center falls the structure comes down. Let’s go to Oklahoma:
“Legal practices should be informed by realities,” the late conservative National Review editor William F. Buckley once wrote in a moment of wishful thinking about marijuana legalization. His essay comes to mind as voters in three Western states prepare to decide Nov. 6 on laws that would make small amounts of pot legal for recreational use. Along with the Colorado Amendment 64, Initiative 502 in Washington and Measure 80 in Oregon would allow people who are 21 and older to buy less than an ounce of marijuana from shops regulated by the state.
. . .
Despite the urging of drug enforcement experts, Washington officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, have not yet said how the U.S. government would deal with possible state laws in the three states. Those laws would conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act. Federal law prohibits the production, possession and sale of marijuana and classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, putting it in the same category as heroin and LSD.
All three ballot initiatives are a step beyond laws legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. Starting with California in 1996, 17 states, including the three with these ballot proposals, have passed laws legalizing the manufacture, distribution and possession of marijuana for such purposes. Arkansas has a similar medical marijuana measure on the ballot Nov. 6.
Oklahoma voters have not faced either question but they could, depending on the Nov. 6 outcome.
. . .
For years, (illegally grown) marijuana has been a top cash crop in several states, including Oklahoma. Why shouldn’t states cash in on a product that’s going to be produced on the black market despite law enforcement’s best efforts to eradicate it? Why not regulate and tax Oklahoma marijuana production and direct the money toward everything that ails this state, which is plenty? It wouldn’t be the first time that the state’s profited from sin taxes.
Nevertheless, the economic incentive argument has plenty of holes, including the cost of a bureaucracy to regulate growers and production and it says nothing about potential social and health costs. Would Oklahoma, with its monumental drug problems, be creating another monster if it allowed the legal production and regulated sales of recreational marijuana?
Nobody knows the answer to that question but what we do know is that decades of enforcement of marijuana laws here have not reduced demand. Studies show that marijuana use among teens, for instance, is greater than ever and pot, in some areas, is easier for minors to obtain than beer. With that in mind, would legalizing small amounts of pot (for adults) lead to kids raiding their parents’ stashes or obtaining (legalized) pot some other way?
. . .
Despite years of waging a largely loser drug war there’s not always a lot to show for the effort. Consumption remains high and far less is spent on education and treatment. A rational drug policy continues to elude us. Yet, this political season neither presidential candidate has said much on the subject. That’s precisely what Buckley predicted long ago.
“We’re not going to find someone running for president who advocates reform of those (pot laws). What is required is a genuine republican groundswell. It is happening but ever so gradually.”
Too bad Buckley is not around to see what happens in those three Western states on Nov. 6. “Historically, the marijuana debate is following America’s laboratory of democracy tradition,” says Ronald Fraser, Ph.D., who writes on public policy issues for DKT Liberty Project. “New public policy ideas are first tried in individual state ‘laboratories’ before they are exported to other states or imposed nationally. The first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana will certainly become a closely watched policy experiment,” Fraser said.
Will those laboratories produce any positive results, or will the sky indeed fall?
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Down the center of America we have covered stories from Michigan, Arkansas and now Oklahoma. As far as prohibition goes, the center cannot hold.
Read the original complete opinion column HERE.
[image: Google images Oklahoma]
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