Marijuana legalization puts drug traffickers out of business, saves states millions of dollars because of unnecessary incarcerations, brings in tax dollars for states, and gives people the right to make a choice. These are just some of the many reasons why the support for marijuana legalization is growing and why “the Pennsylvania capital of Harrisburg is abuzz with talk of a new bill introduced by State Senator Daylin Leach that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in the state,” according to a June 28, 2013, WebProNews report.
“Neill Franklin, the executive director of the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) said, ‘The federal government reports that 60-70 percent of profits from illegal drug trade come from marijuana’.”
One of the major reasons why the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is supporting marijuana legalization is because by keeping marijuana use illegal, criminals have a monopoly over supply and demand of marijuana.
“Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.”
The topic of marijuana legalization is closely linked to profits and money not just for drug traffickers who would lose quite an income but also for state agencies who could in fact save and even make a lot of money by legalizing marijuana.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which is an African-American civil rights organization formed in the United States in 1909, points out in regard to marijuana legalization that Department of Justice data shows that the United States “leads the world in the incarceration of its own citizens, both on a per capita basis and in terms of total prison population. More than 500,000 of the 2.3 million people behind bars in the U.S. are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses.”
Incarcerating people for nonviolent drug offenses like the use of marijuana is costing Pennsylvania $35 million per year for arresting, incarcerating, and monitoring people because they possessed small amounts of marijuana.
The new marijuana legalization bill introduced by State Senator Daylin Leach would change the regulation of marijuana away from drug traffickers to state agencies, save the state money, and bring in additional money by taxing marijuana just like tobacco or alcohol.
Legalization of marijuana is not an all-or-nothing idea but the idea of who is control of what. A person who drinks too much and breaks the law gets arrested for a DUI which is justified. But would it make sense to arrest and imprison a person for having one glass of beer?
The comparison of a glass of beer to a legalized amount of marijuana might help some people understand why “more and more police officers are realizing the War on Drugs is a mistake,” as reported by Rolling Stone on June 27, 2013.
Marijuana itself is not a public safety issue for the most part but the drug trafficking is what keeps police officers busy. Illegal trafficking of marijuana among drug cartels is big black-market business and is estimated to be about 20 percent of their income.
“’When we ended the prohibition of alcohol, Al Capone was out of work the next day,’ says Stephen Downing, Los Angeles’ former Deputy Chief of Police. ‘Our drug policy is really anti-public safety and pro-cartel, pro-street gang, because it keeps them in business’.”
The legalization of marijuana would put drug cartels out of business and police into the business of fighting crime where it can save lives.
“In the past decade, police made more than 7 million marijuana arrests, 88 percent of them for possession alone. In 2010, states spent $3.6 billion enforcing the war on pot, with blacks nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested. That’s a lot of police time and resources wasted, says former Seattle Chief of Police Norm Stamper, who had an ‘aha moment’ about marijuana policy while working for the San Diego Police Department in the late 1960s.”
The legalization of marijuana would also change the relationship between police officers and communities. Similar to a police officer earning a monetary incentive for writing a traffic ticket, police officers also get monetary incentives for arresting someone for the possession of marijuana as Stephen Downing, Los Angeles’ former Deputy Chief of Police Stephen Downing is pointing out.
“Downing says that monetary incentives for drug arrests, like asset forfeiture and federal grants, encourage an attitude where police will make drug arrests by any means necessary, from militarized SWAT raids to paid informants who admit to lying. ‘The overall effect is that we are losing ground in terms of the traditional peace officer role of protecting public safety, and morphing our local police officers into federal drug warriors’.”
Police officers who are not motivated by monetary incentives when it comes to marijuana legalization know quite well that marijuana’s illegality has done very little to stop its use.
“A recent survey by the National Institutes of Health found that 36 percent of high school seniors had smoked marijuana in the past year.”
Marijuana legalization controlled by a state like Pennsylvania would most likely include age restrictions, quality restrictions, and quantity restrictions similar to alcohol. Education about marijuana health issues, not prohibition of marijuana, are the center stone of reducing drug use especially among young people and it is the center stone for the new bill introduced by State Senator Daylin Leach in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s marijuana legalization bill will most likely not come up for a vote in the current Senate session but is expected to be introduced in the next session in the Fall.
If the marijuana legalization support by police, senators, and civil rights groups is any indication, it should not take long until the Pennsylvania marijuana legalization topic will become a nationwide topic.
Baltimore narcotics veteran Neil Franklin emphasized an important aspect of the legalization of marijuana.
“If you support a current system of drug prohibition, then you support the very same thing that the cartel and neighborhood gangs support. You might as well be standing next to them, shaking hands. Because they don’t want an end to prohibition, either.”