Legalize, Tax and Regulate Marijuana

Legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana, for the following reasons:• It’s an ethical issue. Criminalizing the behavior of numerous otherwise law-abiding citizens for the possession of a relatively innocuous organic substance continues to ruin lives, even under the Commonwealth’s current law decriminalizing the possession of one ounce and under.• It’s a public health issue. The benefits of marijuana as a medical therapy for numerous conditions has been established conclusively. And, as we’ve seen, legalizing “medical marijuana” results in de facto legalization.• It’s a matter of fiscal responsibility. The ongoing investigation and prosecution of summary, misdemeanor, and felony level marijuana-related offenses continue to cost taxpayers more than they’re worth. At the same time, taxing the sale of marijuana will provide a dramatic boost in much-needed state revenues (NB: “Total U.S. marijuana production is 14,349 metric tons annually, with a retail value of $113 billion. In diverting this amount from the legal economy, prohibition costs at least $31.1 billion in lost tax revenues annually).• It’s a civil rights issue. Across the Commonwealth, people of color continue to suffer wildly disproportionate rates of harassment, arrests, prosecution, and incarceration on marijuana-related offenses.• It’s a political issue. A bill with four Democratic co-sponsors is currently on the docket. The Chair of the state Senate Judiciary Committee is on the record as supporting legalization. The SIEU, the head of the American Federation of teachers, Congressmen Jim Webb and Barney Frank, and numerous high-ranking law enforcement officials have called for looking into the possibility of legalization. Additionally, it’s no longer a political third-rail: recent surveys show that a majority of Americans support legalization. And in Massachusetts, during the 2010 election, referenda questions around legalizing medical marijuana and marijuana in general appeared in on 18 ballots (nine each); all 18 passed.• It’s a jobs issue. Legalizing marijuana will bring existing jobs around production and distribution into a legal and regulated framework, and will in addition create a raft of new jobs, especially when it comes to hemp, the use of which extends from food to fuel to health products to textiles and beyond.• It’s a public safety issue. So long as marijuana continues to remain illegal, the black market will foster violent activity on the part of organized crime, from Mexico to Main Street.• It’s an environmental issue. Current growing practices—directly due the plant’s legal status—are wreaking environmental harm. There’s also a genuine opportunity to bring a new industry into the state that will be required to operate—from the start—under regulations guaranteeing sustainable growing methods.• It’s a matter of common sense. Prohibition has been an utter failure. According to the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, “Marijuana has remained almost `universally available’ to American youth during the last 30 years of prohibition.” Meanwhile, “cannabis use among U.S. grade 12 students rose from 27% in 1990 to 32% in 2008, while use among 19 to 28-year-olds increased from 26% in 1990 to 29% in 2008.”Therefore, The State Committee of the Green-Rainbow Party endorses the legalization of marijuana in both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and at the federal level. Official statement follows: Continue reading