Connecticut Law Review: Time To Change Marijuana Laws!

Editorial: Time To Change Marijuana Laws
There are substantial arguments for and against legalizing the use of marijuana. Opponents of its use strongly believe that marijuana is addictive, leads to the use of hard drugs, impairs short-term memory and motor coordination, and irritates the respiratory system. Despite these objections, on balance, it’s time to seriously consider legalizing marijuana.
Proponents of the legalized use of marijuana believe the following:
Marijuana has some beneficial qualities. It relieves pain, stimulates appetite in AIDS patients, reduces nausea in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, is an antidepressant, and relieves anxiety.
Our present laws are out of date. That is because too many people wish to use marijuana and we know Prohibition didn’t work. The reason Prohibition didn’t work is because an overwhelming number of otherwise law-abiding citizens wished to drink, and government couldn’t afford to stop them. When a very significant percentage of the population wishes to do something, which is not inherently harmful to anyone else, then government is facing a losing battle.
Save the enforcement money and tax it. The economy would be strengthened if government saved the money they spend on enforcement of our marijuana laws, and taxed it just as they do alcohol. Jeff Miron, a Harvard economist, has calculated that marijuana could generate approximately $8.7 billion in national tax revenue per year if legalized. He also calculated that approximately $8 billion is spent trying to fight marijuana. Those numbers can be debated, but it is clear that state governments, and the federal government, spend billions of dollars enforcing our marijuana laws and they don’t tax it (unless they catch someone who has an unreported income). That $17 billion could be better spent on other government programs. In signing a new California law that greatly reduces penalties for people possessing small amounts of marijuana, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stated: “In this time of drastic budget cuts, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, and the courts cannot afford to expend limited resources prosecuting a crime that carries the same punishment as a traffic ticket.” In other words, it is too expensive to enforce the present anti-marijuana laws.
Its use is not morally wrong. The use of marijuana is no more morally wrong than the use of alcohol. Therefore, it should not be a crime. It should not even be a misdemeanor. Each year approximately 750,000 Americans are arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The only valid reason for its criminalization is that government needs to protect people from themselves. Statistically, it is difficult to determine what percentage of the people who use marijuana need protecting because they eventually move on to hard drugs, but one generally recognized range is between 2 percent and 9 percent. That is 2 to 9 percent of new users, because present users are still there even if it isn’t legal. Assuming that this is true, part of the tax revenue raised from the legalization of marijuana could be used for the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.
Marijuana laws are not enforced equitably. According to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, blacks and Latino men are more likely than whites to be stopped and searched, and when drugs are found, they are prosecuted. He claims that in Los Angeles black men are arrested for marijuana possession seven times more frequently than whites. It is doubtful that blacks use marijuana seven times as much as whites.
Our present marijuana laws empower gangs and violence. The wars in Mexico are an example. Of course, these drug wars also deal with hard drugs, but eliminating marijuana from the illegal drug trade would make these wars less worthwhile. There is no sense encouraging drug cartels or violence.
The time has come to treat marijuana like alcohol, tax it like alcohol, and sell it either in state-controlled stores or in private stores, like liquor or drug stores. Control of our marijuana laws should be returned to the states with the federal government having a limited role, as it does now, with alcohol.
Some states or towns may continue to make marijuana illegal or control it through zoning laws. That would be up to them. But changing the law would not be difficult since government could simply add marijuana to its alcohol statutes and regulations. Once this is accomplished, the states and the federal government could tax it as they see fit. Let’s not kid ourselves. Government has lost this argument as they did with the Volstead Act. It’s time to learn our lesson.
*Commentaries appearing above are produced by the Editorial Board of the Connecticut Law Tribune. The opinions are voted on and passed by at least one third of the members of the board. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of every member of the board, nor of the newspaper

75 thoughts

  1. When prohibs tell the “Big Lie” – “cannabis is a gateway drug, it’s addictive, it’s the most dangerous drug in the world, or whatever” – that bell rings in everyone’s ears. Perhaps, prohibs believe that they win by insinuation [that is] if they tell the “Big Lie” long enough – it beomes “believable.” We can look into the motives of prohibs and judge them – but – that would be much like pissing in the wind. When we argue against whatever they say – we repeat what they say – a ring, a ding, a ring a ding ding! and “their remarks” remain the headlines. Why rebute? I’m inclined to “totally disregard” their insinuations and accept Ecclesiastes III:7 [a time to shut up] – that is to say – let their words fall on deaf ears and don’t encourage their bullshit with arguement. I’m inclined to promote the truth only [totally excluding their remarks] – in other words – “If you can’t say something nice [truthful] don’t say anything at all.” Well! here’s the point – “Love and hate are the very same thing – it’s indifference that is impossible to deal with.” Let’s just be indifferent to prohibs.

  2. Connecticut, though small, is an IMPORTANT part in this war that many don’t realize– CT is the last pure prohibitionist state in the Northeast. ONLY Connecticut has done NOTHING to reform drug laws. Changing ANYTHING in CT would be a huge win for the reform movement.
    It is a shame NORML Danbury had to be disbanded. The fact that it was disbanded because of an idiot college kid strengthens my argument that constantly focusing on colleges and “hempfests” is counterproductive and, in reality, a WASTE of money & resources.
    [Editor’s note: 1) People in CT have nobody but themselves to blame for being slow on the up take regarding cannabis law reforms and 2) NORML does not focus at all, let alone constantly, on hempfests and colleges.]

  3. i would be o.k to legalize it but Monsanto would have their hand in it they already do in our food thanks to lame duck bill s510. plus they have their hands in canada’s hemp production. “monsanto “

  4. Thomas Jefferson believed that each individual has “certain inalienable rights.” That is, these rights exist with or without government; man cannot create, take, or give them away. It is the right of “liberty” on which Jefferson is most notable for expounding. He defines it by saying “rightful liberty is unobstructed a…ction according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
    ?”because law is often but the tyrant’s will” as we now have today. This Constructive Fraud of cannabis placed upon us by the government is a fine example of what Jefferson was talking about.

  5. Comment on #48 The so called Hippies movment in the Sixties faced a tremendis up hill battle with Law enforcment, Government, and they stood firm to their beliefs in the face of major Opposition. belive they even had mohut Gandie who traveled accrossed the ocen to go to address them at wood stock. The peace movmnent was incredible. I pull my hat off to you, Sir. It set pressidence where today we can follow. Thank you

  6. Legalize All Drugs, this will place the illegal industry with no profit
    This would destroy all the ‘gang s and force our youth to participate
    Let us take back our children, our countries

  7. “The Reformation”
    Genesis the Faith
    1. Genesists will not be caught half asleep on the couch.
    2. Genesists are not going to be next in line when they put up the “Sold Out” sign.
    3. Genesists are not cattle, sheep, or donkies.
    Having said that – what are Genesists?
    1. Thank you for coming. We appreciate what you’ve had to say. But – we are the Faith that is going to have our Sacrament…period! It’s our religious and Constitutional right, given to us by God!
    2. We are 3,141 colonies [counties] in the U.S. that collectively “mandate the repeal” of the prohibition of our Sacrament.
    3. Genesists morally reject “Prior Competing Governmental Interests” in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as unconstitutional and void.
    3. We Genesists aspire to support the Faith and its Sacrament. Our free will is stronger than an “unjust and immoral law.”

  8. We the rich hold these truths to be undeniable; that all rich people are created above all others & that our superiority is created by our God, the better God, that we derive our rights inherent & inalienable above anyone else who is not of our superior class, we will decide what the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness is; that to secure our position to these ends, our token government is instituted by the corrupted rich, deriving their just powers with the force of their armies and from the consent of the rich as a whole; that whenever any person(s) shall become destructive of our way of life, it is the right of the rich to destroy, alter or to abolish any rule, law or person(s) that interfere with the rule of the rich, & to institute new definitions at will and without notice, laying ours foundation squarely on the backs of the less inferior humans. We the rich shall organize our powers in such a form, as to keep all the lower classes confused as to what is real and at bay by uses of fear. We shall protect our own safety & happiness by force should the poor and middle class rise up and revolt due to the heavy yokes placed around their necks and the necks of their future generations.

  9. its good to see things turn some, how many states are participating in some sort of reform? tooo bad fla is not friggen participating . what is rick scotts feelin on this? thank you norml for your work. could you direct me to any recent updates on saliva testing for workplace. i want to keep feeding information to my companies h.r. dept. gingerly , of course. works good for both, they get straight workers and, we got our personal life back again. it sucks that their are many who consume who wont speak up in an appropriate and reasonable manner.especially now that i cannot consume i find myself speakin out without as much fear . cannabis has been good to me in 33 yrs. i damn sure miss it as it was a benefit to my life .peace to you all….

  10. “The Reformation”
    Genesis the Faith
    Doctrine of the Genesist Faith.
    Establishment Clause.“Without exemption (circumscription – qualification) no person(s) shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Genesists are free to profess and maintain their opinion in matters of religion, and in no wise diminish, enlarge, or effect their civil capacities. Genesists shall not suffer on account of their religious opinions, beliefs or practices; for whosoever would stand on a Genesist’s path of religious freedom [individual freedom] and rattle their sword, such act
    provokes “infringement of the natural rights of mankind,” the privileges and advantages to which in common with our brethren we have a natural right.
    No law can be sacred to Genesists but that of our nature. The only right is what is after our Constitution, the only wrong is what is against it. When one Genesist loses their religious [individual] freedom, each and every Genesist loses theirs. Individual freedom is the bedrock for freedom for all; for without it, when it is denied, when it is with-held, are we not a controlled mass? “There’s two ways to be fooled.” One [is], to believe what isn’t true, the othe [is], to refuse to believe what is true. Those who will sacrifice freedom for order, will receive neither. Free individuals reject, as an ardent and unforgiving congress, the transgressions of an oppressive government that strips them of their free choices, their pursuit of happiness, their rights, their freedom, and the will of their Creator.
    Genesists believe in the American Creed. We believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people for the people, whose just powers are derived from “the consent of the governed,” a democracy in a republic, a sovereign nation of many sovereign states, a perfect union, one and inseparable, established upon the principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. Therefore, we believe it [is] “our duty to our country” to love it, to support its Constitution , to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to “defend it against all enemies – foreign and domestic.”
    “We have a Republic – and we intend to keep it.” Many of our fathers and fore-fathers [patriots all] have sacrificed their lives in defense of that humanity. And – if not for freedom – then for what? “Pray that they have not sacrificed their lives in vain?” History has proven, again and again, that we will do “anything” to be free – we will “risk it all” to be free – we will “fight and die” to be free. History is being re-written in today’s struggle to preserve our Faith, and free our Holy Sacrament from its prohibition.
    Genesists believe in the Constitution. “We the People, of the United States of America,” in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of “liberty” to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution of the United States of America.
    All men and women, are by nature, free, equal, and independent, and submit to government because they find it convenient to do so, [not] because they acknowledge any divine right on the part of any one person, or group of persons. It has become painfully apparent, lacking decent respect for the Constitution, that [this] government has “lost its conscience,” and is not decent enough to rule itself, let alone its fellow citizens. Can man rule himself? Genesists are not cattle or sheep needing tending. No! we can, and we will, by the grace of God – tend ourselves.
    Freedom, Independence, Liberty [definition]. These words refer to an absence of undue restrictions and a opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers. Freedom emphasizes the opportunity given for the exercise of one’s rights, powers, desires, or the like: freedom of speech or conscience; freedom of movement. Independence implies not only lack of restrictions but also the ability to stand alone, unsustained by anything else. Independence of mind and thought promotes invention and discovery. Liberty, though most often interchanged with Freedom, is also used to imply “undue exercise of Freedom.” Under the microscope, “undue exercise of Freedom,” reveals itself as government’s arrogance by “taking the liberty – to take away our liberty.” Freedom is the exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. – the power to determine action without restraint – civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary despot government – the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without; autonomy, self determination. The existence of Free Will must be reconciled with God’s omniscience and goodness (in allowing man to choose badly), and with divine grace, which allegedly is necessary for any meritorious act.

  11. “The Reformantion”
    Genesis the Faith
    Genesists demand protection from power by a few.
    It is with determination that Genesists therefore, rise to vigorously oppose, resist, and [act] to abolish the prohibition of our Holy Sacrament. We reject, with conviction, government’s incessant monopolizing political pretext and its appalling intrusion of our Faith, and demand/mandate impunity in a free and unencumbered way of life guaranteed us in the Constitution. Genesists, by the grace of God, have independence of mind and thought, and the right to move forward in a “free and unencumbered way of life in the pursuit of happiness.” Genesists do not seek to enhance our position on religious liberty, we simply consider religious liberty “sacrosanct.” Genesists recognize that the prohibition of our Holy Sacrament is unconscionable, outrageous, and corrupts the principles of our Faith, [yet] we conceive extraordinary hope that religious freedom will endure eternal. We demand protection of our divine providence. Genesists will not sacrifice our eternal salvation to a corrupt, politically influenced, invalid, unjust law. A mightier hope abolishes despair. “God’s Word [will be] the final word, and God’s Holy Sacrament [will be] the world’s salvation [rescue].”
    It is by virtue of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of U.S. Constitution, perhaps the most glorious principle of our Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, as well as the International Declaration of Human Rights that Genesists claim the “right to practice our Faith,” unobstructed by government’s intent to interfere; also the U.S. Supreme Courts ruling that government [must prove] that damage has been done to the greater community before any action can be taken against using sacraments in the observance of one’s Faith.
    Religious Exercise means: 1.) any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to a system of religious belief. 2.) any conduct protected as exercise of religion under the first amendment of the Constitution.
    Free Exercise means: That portion of the first amendment to the Constitution that proscribes laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion and includes the application of that proscription under the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

  12. Editor– you’re right, we can blame each other here in Connecticut. However, the disbanding of Norml Danbury WAS one guy’s fault. I was there when he made his idiotic actions and quite frankly that was the incident that made me turn off to the whole idea of recruiting on colleges.
    I will accept that NORML doesn’t solely do the whole useless-hempfest-thing. But it’s the marijuana movement in general (which is, pardon the pun, grassroots in many areas).
    HOWEVER– Connecticut people to blame are not ALL the people in Connecticut. An initiative system similar to those found in other states was proposed in 2008 and rejected because nobody ever actually explained to the public what they were actually voting on. I was one of few who voted FOR the initiative system, and my heart sank about 1/2 as low as it did last November when the vote came back negative.
    Please do not mistake my bitterness in these posts as hostility. It’s merely the comments of a lifelong optimist brought to the point of complete cynicism mostly because of the “our loss is a victory” attitude many have taken post-Prop 19. In no way do I want to imply that I BLAME Norml for any of this, despite the way I may sound at times.
    Regardless– my comments regarding the state of affairs in Connecticut, that we are the last bastion of pure prohibitionism in the Northeast IS true and as such, given losses in California etc, is not exactly a poor target for any and all attempts to change things.
    Unfortunately, without an initiative system the best we can do is write/call representatives or vote for those who claim they will serve our interests (whether or not they do is another story). We’ll see what Malloy chooses to do.
    [Editor’s note: You might take a dim view of hempfests, but they can hardly be called “useless” as they’ve been important community building tools, media events, educational outlets and sources of needed revenue for almost 40 years.]

  13. We’ve sparred long enough with obstructionists. We’re on board, and it’s good to go. It’s all good.
    Ventura, Ca. Colony of the Genesist Faith.

  14. In my place I wonder, while all the expert legal experts argue about their fees, Cannabis is denied.
    I live in such a troubled Land.

    Another police raid and yet another innocent family caught up in a failed war that sends heavily armed, masked and hyped up cops in search of largely nonviolent offenders. This time the raid happened in Spring Valley, New York, and left a 13-year-old child vomiting and gasping for air in an asthma attack triggered by the over-the-top and misdirected actions of police and DEA agents.

  16. This is such an amazing entry and I love to read more of it so that I will be able to look over and have it as an inspiration for further articles to write about when it comes to updates on legalizing marijuana stuffs and it’s pros and cons too. I do hope you will get to visit our official website and let us know what you think about it.
    Here is the link
    Thanks ahead 🙂

  17. “The Reformation”
    Genesis the Faith
    Genesists believe in ourselves.
    The purpose of life is “duty to our spirit self and the spirit of God within our individual soul;” to live life to its fullest, to its mortal end. Genesits are self defining, and are grounded in a fervent sense of reality. The antidote to formal government’s abuse of our unalienable religious right is “the influence of private character.” One thing is clear, “a certain personal virtue is essential to freedom.” Therefore, Genesists “pledge our allegiance to religious freedom and individualism,” and should we become a traitor to the cause to which we pledge our allegiance, may our right hand wither on the arm that we raise.

  18. President Obama on Thursday called drug legalization “an entirely legitimate topic for debate,” but quickly added “I am not in favor of legalization.” my response is simply, Put Up or Shut Up Mr. President! The debate you claim is “an entirely legitimate topic for debate,” is long over due. We the People have been a……sking this Government to give us this debate and debate this issue like reasonable human beings. The government’s response has “shocked the sense of fair play,” they have openly lied and mis-informed the general public for since 1937. Mr. President we want this debate! We dare you to set this in motion and since you clearly stated, “not in favor of legalization”, you and your party should put up or shut up and defend Prohibition. We the People will bring it on, set the ground, we’ll debate who ever you send. All we ask is that it be live and transparent to the public.

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