During all the hullabaloo over President Obama’s reelection, the states of Washington and Colorado legalized pot use — as in, the people of those states can light up for fun.
From CBS News:
“Those who have argued for decades that legalizing and taxing weed would be better than a costly, failed U.S. drug war have their chance to prove it, as Colorado and Washington became the first states to allow pot for recreational use.
While the measures earned support from broad swaths of the electorate in both states Tuesday, they are likely to face resistance from federal drug warriors. As of Wednesday, authorities did not say whether they would challenge the new laws.”
Obama, who many progressives hoped would be the pot president, has cracked down on marijuana dispensaries in places like Washington and California, where marijuana use for medical purposes has been legalized. But, now in his second and last term, it’s unclear whether the president intends to continue the war on weed or allow the experiments in Washington and Colorado go on.
“Federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly,” Governor John Hickenlooper warned his fellow Coloradans.
The case for prohibition is pretty weak. As with alcohol during the 1920s, the criminalization of marijuana fuels an underground market worth billions of dollars a year, enough money for people in the poorer countries where weed is grown to kill for.
A recent study conducted by the Mexican Competitiveness Institute estimates that the legalization of pot in just one U.S. state could potentially drain 30 percent of annual revenue from drug cartels operating throughout Latin America.
Alejandro Hope, an analyst with the group and a former official in Mexico’s intelligence service who has studied the possible effects of legalization, said the new laws in Colorado and Washington could even cut into the illegal trade for other substances, like cocaine and heroin. Drug cartels use massive profits from the illegal pot trade to fund their cocaine and heroin enterprises, which include the kidnapping and bribery of politicians, judges, and other officials. Of course, pot money also pays for guns and bullets.
“[The illegal marijuana trade] will not be a super-lucrative business proposition for a criminal enterprise,” Hope said, according to Fox News Latino. “This will not be a cash cow.”
If people are allowed to grow marijuana in places like California and Colorado, it would eliminate the need to import weed from Mexico, where most of America’s weed is grown today. Some estimates put the marijuana revenue taken in by Mexican cartels at between 15 and 40 percent.
One thing’s clear: American dollars are bankrolling Latin American deaths.
And all because marijuana is perceived to be a dangerous drug. Every day we read about deaths caused by drunk drivers and smokers who die of lung cancer. Never have you read of a death caused by marijuana use.
There’s even a widely-circulated photo of our president, now a two-termer, puffing on a fatty as a young man, a look of utter satisfaction on his face. He smoked weed all through his early years — he probably smokes now too — and he’s come out alright, hasn’t he? (Republicans, don’t answer that.)
What are we doing here, people? We’re spending billions of dollars in law enforcement a year, billions on locking up youngsters and forever ruining their records (and their lives), and reading about Mexicans being decapitated south of the border, all because we choose to criminalize a drug less harmful than the ones we market to teenagers.
In full disclosure, I don’t smoke at all — friends call me “Baby Lungs.” But it seems unthinkable to me that we would criminalize something that costs billions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives in enforcing, when doing the opposite would cut costs, pull in government revenue, keep young people out of jail, cripple drug cartels, and save countless lives throughout Latin America.
So again, I ask you, what are we doing here? This is truly madness.