Supporting Washington, D.C.’s ballot initiative 71, which would make marijuana legal in the nation’s capital, makes sense in terms of economics, safety, and fairness, according to Economics21.
If the initiative passes on November 4, it would eliminate the criminal and civil penalties associated with personal possession, private use, and cultivation of marijuana — within limits (two ounces for possession, no use in public places, and six plants).
In terms of safety, the infamous argument that marijuana is a gateway drug and leads individuals to resort to harder drugs has repeatedly been called into question. Moreover, a Rand Corporation research report concluded:
“The harms of marijuana use can no longer be viewed as necessarily including an expansion of hard-drug use and its associated harms.”
In terms of legal marijuana’s economic viability, there are many benefits found in easing the burden on legal and corrections systems, money which can be used to fund various beneficial measures associated with public health and safety and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crime
Lastly, marijuana possession makes up nearly half of all drug arrests. The arrests of those who have been labeled as criminals for committing low-level crimes make it significantly harder to find employment.
In an interview in 2013, former Secretary of State George Schultz said, “According to the World Health Organization, the use of drugs is higher in the United States than most comparable countries. So you have to say that the war on drugs has simply not worked... We have wound up with a large number of young people in jail, mostly blacks, a huge cost, and a debilitating one to our society. And big foreign policy costs.”
In the end, it is quite clear that voting yes on Initiative 71 is the safer, fairer, and smarter choice. Please vote November 4 and lead the nation’s capital towards establishing a more sensible approach to marijuana policy. Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to do the same!
A report released today by the Partnership for a Drug Free America shows that the number of American teenagers who use marijuana has increased for the first time in 10 years, with 25 percent of teens in grades 9 through 12 saying they’ve used marijuana in the past month, up from 19 percent.
What these numbers show—despite what organizations like PDFA might twist them to say—is that our current marijuana policies have clearly failed to reduce teen marijuana use, and a different approach is necessary. Right now, teens have easy access to marijuana because it is unregulated and controlled exclusively by drug dealers who do not check IDs.
The solution, therefore—as readers of this blog have heard time and again—is quite simple: Tax and regulate marijuana, so that it can be sold only by licensed merchants who would be required to check IDs and would face harsh penalties if they failed to do so. A similar approach has enabled this country to drastically reduce teen cigarette smoking over the past two decades. It’s also worked overseas. In the Netherlands, for example, marijuana is sold in regulated establishments to adults who must show proof of age. As a result, according to a 2008 World Health Organization survey, the overall rate of marijuana use in the Netherlands is less than half what it is in the United States. Additionally, only 7% of Dutch teens have tried marijuana by age 15. In the U.S., as many as 20.2% of teens have tried marijuana by age 15, according to government estimates.
If this country is serious about keeping marijuana out of the hands of teenagers, we need to accept the simple fact that prohibition does not work. Regulation does.