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Is this the type of government you want to support?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, July 09, 2007

Kathleen Parker reminds us:
Yet even now, federal law enforcement agents raid the homes of terminally ill patients who use marijuana for relief from suffering in states where medical marijuana use is permitted. These federal raids have become an issue in the 2008 presidential race as candidates have been asked to take a position. A summary is available on the Marijuana Policy Project Web site (mpp.org).
Now like Parker, my drug of choice is completely different. Where she is enamored with what she calls a "heavenly elixir made from crushed grapes", I prefer mine contain barley, hops and, well you know. I have no dog in the "legalize marijuana" hunt, except that well known libertarian dog, "none of anyone's business what you do with your own body", which is a pretty long name for a dog so we just call her Mary Jane.

To the point:
Beyond the medical issue is the practical question of criminalizing otherwise good citizens for consuming a nontoxic substance — described by the British medical journal Lancet as less harmful to health than alcohol or tobacco — at great economic and social cost. Each year, more than 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana-related offenses at a cost of more than $7 billion, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
That's simply bad policy when you're going after non-violent "criminals" whose only offense is to violate an arbitrary decision to make one substance legal and another illegal. And that's all this amounts too.

Here's the solution:
If marijuana were legalized, regulated and taxed at the rates applied to alcohol and tobacco, revenues would reach about $6.2 billion annually, according to an open letter signed by 500 economists who urged President Bush and other public officials to debate marijuana prohibition. Among those economists were three Nobel Prize winners, including the late Milton Friedman of Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Friedman and others were acting in response to a 2005 report on the budgetary implications of marijuana prohibition by Jeffrey Miron, visiting professor of economics at Harvard. By Miron's estimate, regulating marijuana would save about $7.7 billion annually in government prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels.
Now I don't appreciate the fact that the fed would reap a windfall tax bonanza on MJ (will Congress hold hearings on their tax gouging?), but what I do care about is ending this stupidity we call the drug war, even if we have to give up taxes to government. And I'm all for doing it incrementally starting with marijuana.

Treat it like alcohol for heaven sake. Use the taxes for education and treatment. Minors are still forbidden from using it and will be arrested, and those who provide it to minors will suffer the same consequences - just like alcohol. And yes, it can be grown at home and minors can have access. But heck, they have access to a liquor cabinet now whether you want to admit it or not. We still punish parents and adults who allow them access. Marijuana would be no different.

The image of jack-booted thugs hauling away terminally ill people who only want to use marijuana to stimulate their appetite and perhaps ease a little pain is not one I want for my government. It is time to give serious attention to righting this wrong and ending this benighted policy of prohibition, a policy we reversed once before because we realized that isn't the function of government. I'm not sure why that lesson was so quickly forgotten.

Oh, and in case you were wondering:
All eight Democratic candidates have taken positive positions on medical marijuana. Six candidates have publicly promised to end the federal raids, including Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), John Edwards (D-NC), Mike Gravel (D-AK), and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), who in April signed legislation making New Mexico the 12th state to protect residents who use medical marijuana. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) have yet to clearly state their support for ending the raids, but along with Sen. Dodd, they voted in opposition to federal legislation in committee that would have increased the penalties for growing and distributing medical marijuana in states that have approved its use.

Many of the Republican candidates have also taken compassionate positions on medical marijuana, including former secretary of Heath and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who recently stated on two separate occasions that he would end the raids on patients. Last year, Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Ron Paul (R-TX) voted with Kucinich in support of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would have cut off funding for federal raids on states with medical marijuana programs.

McCain and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore have both taken positions protecting states' rights, with McCain saying he would, "let states decide" the medical marijuana issue.

[...]

Neither former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts nor former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani have taken a clear position one way or another. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) have all stated that they would continue having cancer and AIDS patients arrested for their use of medical marijuana.
Just a little FYI. Wonder what Fred's position on this is?

(HT: MacGhillielaidir)
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
I have not seen a coherent, logical, or remotely libertarian argument against legalization. What I have seen are people who are seriously misinformed about the nature of these substances.

I doubt this go round will be any different, but the suggestion to start with MJ is a good one. Perhaps we could hear some specific arguments against this step that do not.

I will laugh if I hear that this is a bad idea because it is a slippery slope, precisely because it is intentionally a slippery slope course of action. Start with MJ, if that yields positive results, then move up the line, until eventually, people are not deprived of their freedom because some OTHER people have had a bad reaction to a substance they enjoy.

Nice to be on the same side every once in a while.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Now I don’t appreciate the fact that the fed would reap a windfall tax bonanza on MJ

That’s what’s so irritating about the legalization thing. Think of all the trouble those fools will get into — and get us into — with all that money. Must we to be subjected to a BATMJF? Wouldn’t that be the mellow-harsher from federal hell?

Can’t it just be decriminalized? Wouldn’t that work? Don’t make it legal and taxable but just stop expending resources to nab stoners?

Really, is that too much to ask? And maybe that they just lay off profiteering from all the other (fully legal) sins as well? And for the love of God stop actually employing vice to rake in dough, as with lotteries?

Wait, what am I saying? That the agents of government might be expected not to reap profit from activities that they take it upon themselves to brow beat people about? I must be stoned.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
And for the love of God stop actually employing vice to rake in dough, as with lotteries?
Vice happens, there are some negative consequences, and while I am vehemently opposed to innocent individuals having their freedom stripped away because of the way some other might react to vice, I am realistic enough to know that if we legalize this stuff, someone is going to have to pay the damages. Can you think of a better to group than the users? Not completely, since those that actually DO the damage really should pay, but you can’t get blood from a turnip.

Also, decriminalization does NOTHING to put the dealers out of business, and they are the ugliest aspect to prohibition.

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Some at Reason have claimed Rudy is against medical marijuana; if true this is a real blow to him in my eyes.

Fred’s position will be telling. His negatives are going to start going up once he actually takes positions on things.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com
I am realistic enough to know that if we legalize this stuff, someone is going to have to pay the damages. - Cap
How does legalization — or the decriminalization I favor (for the sake of argument, you understand) — increase the damages? And why should the government take charge of paying such damages as may occur?
Also, decriminalization does NOTHING to put the dealers out of business, and they are the ugliest aspect to prohibition.
Actually, I know some people who know some people who would just grow their own. So unless the dealers would want to take up the role of crop eradicator currently played by law enforcement, they’d probably note a downturn in their business.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
A) Since people and kids especially like to walk the line, I would rather draw the line at Mary Jane than the latest variant of Acid or whatever.

2) People can cross the line, if they sign away the fact I need to pick up the tab if crossing that line adversely affect their health or lifestyle.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
I just think that these estimates on tax revenue from legalization are wildly optimistic. Do they think that folks that are making tax-free money now are going to just line up to pay said tax? If you are for legalization, fine. Just don’t use the possible tax revenue for justification, as seems to be of whole cloth. I just don’t see the wind-fall happening.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net/
I just think that these estimates on tax revenue from legalization are wildly optimistic. Do they think that folks that are making tax-free money now are going to just line up to pay said tax? If you are for legalization, fine. Just don’t use the possible tax revenue for justification, as seems to be of whole cloth. I just don’t see the wind-fall happening.
So, you think that in a world of decriminalization that your corner dope-slinger is still going to be the point-of-sale? Why go down to crack alley when you can walk down to Rite-Aid and safely buy it over the counter?

I suppose the current suppliers could attempt to maintain their position, but do you think they can compete with Big Pharma, ADM, and ConAgra?
 
Written By: pef
URL: http://
So, you think that in a world of decriminalization that your corner dope-slinger is still going to be the point-of-sale? Why go down to crack alley when you can walk down to Rite-Aid and safely buy it over the counter?

I suppose the current suppliers could attempt to maintain their position, but do you think they can compete with Big Pharma, ADM, and ConAgra?
Uh, no. Unlike alcohol, it is very easy to grow your own weed. The harder stuff, perhaps, but I still see the pie-in-the-sky tax projections as a bit optimistic.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net/
Uh, no. Unlike alcohol, it is very easy to grow your own weed.
It also really easy to brew your own beer these days. I mean, they have bags you just add water to and you’ll have tasty brew in a month or so. The point is though, I don’t like to wait a month, so while I may have some brewing, I’m also visiting the local packy for my tasty beverages.

To take it to another extreme, it’s easy to grow tomato’s at home, but other people do it better, and I can buy exactly what I want and when. I see the same thing happen with things like weed.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
"Can’t it just be decriminalized?"

The way things seem to be going, in a few years tobacco and marijuana will trade legal status. That way the DEA and BAMJF will not have to lay off enforcement agents, they will just transfer.

"Actually, I know some people who know some people who would just grow their own."

I can see it now, little road side stands where the agriculturally inclined sell their surplus produce, advertising both Silver Queen corn and Acapulco Gold weed. After all, when you use the weed, you got
to feed.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
It also really easy to brew your own beer these days. I mean, they have bags you just add water to and you’ll have tasty brew in a month or so. The point is though, I don’t like to wait a month, so while I may have some brewing, I’m also visiting the local packy for my tasty beverages.

To take it to another extreme, it’s easy to grow tomato’s at home, but other people do it better, and I can buy exactly what I want and when. I see the same thing happen with things like weed.
Again, it is much easier to grow weed (uh, maybe it grows like one?) than to brew your own beer. Why does it seem like such a hard concept for folks to grasp? And again, it was not my main point, but that the tax estimates are high, IMHO.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net/
Again, it is much easier to grow weed (uh, maybe it grows like one?) than to brew your own beer. Why does it seem like such a hard concept for folks to grasp?
And if you’re interested in something other than garbage weed, it might take a bit more effort than just letting it grow willy-nilly (see meagain’s point). It’s easier to let someone else take care of the cultivation and produce a nice selection, and pay them for their efforts.
And again, it was not my main point, but that the tax estimates are high, IMHO.
And this I’m willing to concede. But, hell, I’ll take the estimated "savings" of no longer prosecuting the war on some drugs, any taxes generated will a "bonus" (since I’m unlikely to see the preferred reduction in taxes).
 
Written By: pef
URL: http://
I said:
And this I’m willing to concede. But, hell, I’ll take the estimated "savings" of no longer prosecuting the war on some drugs, any taxes generated will a "bonus" (since I’m unlikely to see the preferred reduction in taxes).
Tying it back to what meagain noted as well as my reading of your original point, which was the contention that there wouldn’t be any revenue because people would just grow their own and not pay any taxes: the number of people who would bother to grow their own would likely be abyssmally small in the big picture.

So, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the projection of $6.2b is real and is 100% market conversion. With a very liberal guesstimate of 5% "grow your own", that leaves about $5.9b. And, still, the estimate is noted as "if the rates were in line with alcohol and tobacco"; who know where the rates would actually fall in the fairy-tale world?


 
Written By: pef
URL: http://
Uh, no. Unlike alcohol, it is very easy to grow your own weed.

Presumably one could grow one’s own tobacco too, but I’ve never heard of anyone doing it despite sky-high taxes. Why? Because it’s still inefficient, costly, and takes a very long time compared to just buying a pack of cigarettes or canister of chew, due to the vast economies of scale enjoyed by major producers.

 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com
Tying it back to what meagain noted as well as my reading of your original point, which was the contention that there wouldn’t be any revenue because people would just grow their own and not pay any taxes: the number of people who would bother to grow their own would likely be abyssmally small in the big picture.

So, let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the projection of $6.2b is real and is 100% market conversion. With a very liberal guesstimate of 5% "grow your own", that leaves about $5.9b. And, still, the estimate is noted as "if the rates were in line with alcohol and tobacco"; who know where the rates would actually fall in the fairy-tale world?
Are you really that dense? Where did I say that there would be no tax from it, or that everyone would grow their own? Ye gods. I said the estimates are high, and I’ll add:
By Miron’s estimate, regulating marijuana would save about $7.7 billion annually in government prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels.
is laughable, as does anyone think tose agencies will give up that kind of funding? I am saying that it is not directly comparable with alcohol/tobacco, as the users have been making due outside of the law for much longer than either of the other mentioned substance users have ever had to, and all without paying any taxes. That is my point.
 
Written By: Crusader
URL: http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net/
The way things seem to be going, in a few years tobacco and marijuana will trade legal status. — timactual
Ain’t it the truth. And I guess we can see, in the story of tobacco, how legalization — decriminalization conferring too nebulous and non-taxable a status to please any government — will devolve soon enough into prohibition by a thousand laws. Instead of the all-purpose "don’t do it" we’ll have don’t do while driving, while in a car at all, in the presense of anyone under 21, in unlicensed establishments, in any establishment, within 100 feet of any establishment, anywhere outdoors, in your home if the neighbors think they can smell it. And, hey, do you even have a license to buy that stuff?

The more it may change, the more it will stay the same, I guess. Except for the getting worse part.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
Crusader,

The revenue estimates are probably low, if anything. The study is carried out on the basis of existing markets only. There will be an expansion in the market if it is legalized. People who want to have recreational enjoyment from a drug, but are averse to the prospect of spending years locked away in prison - will be free to choose weed.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Again, it is much easier to grow weed (uh, maybe it grows like one?) than to brew your own beer.
That’s not necessarily true when you consider that you must take certain precautions. Especially in an urban or suburban environment, where most of us live.

First of all, what is involved in brewing beer? A simple kit with all the ingredients added, add water, cook your wort, allow to cool, pitch yeast, transfer to fermentation vessel, wait, … enjoy.

Very simple.

And it would be much easier to grow weed if all you did was throw a few seeds in the garden. But you really shouldn’t do that, should you?
It would definitely be subject to thievery, and much worse, thievery by young children. One growing weed should do so indoors, which requires a constant regulation of light and water. Or, I guess, one could employ dogs or a security system to protect the outdoor crop.

Not so simple.

Just a consideration.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://

 
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