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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Massachusettes Voters Decriminalize Marijuana

On November 4th, 2008, the voters in the State of Massachusetts approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Once again Massachusetts takes the lead on civil rights issues. This will not only solve overcrowding in their prisons, it will also free law enforcement to focus efforts more on victim related, burglaries, robberies, and other violent crimes.

Marijuana prohibition has been a total failure and is perhaps this country's greatest mistake. Not only has it created criminals out of nearly a third of the country's populace, it costs our society billions of dollars every year, creates a strain on our prison system, and has little or no effect on marijuana use in the US. In some cases, prosecuting marijuana use has turned non-violent, middle class kids into violent and unpredictable, career criminals. Once a person has a criminal conviction on their record, they are far less likely to find a good job and become a useful member of society. Other countries with more liberal drug laws have much lower rates of drug addiction among their people.

Interestingly, marijuana prohibition only increases the number of professional drug dealers, because if it wasn't illegal for a person to grow it they would have little need to buy it from anyone else: Legalizing marijuana cultivation would make it nearly impossible for anyone to make a living selling pot. This is probably not going to happen, because although government is somewhat willing to decriminalize possession, they are very unlikely to allow cultivation. Otherwise, how would they be able to tax it? If marijuana is ever decriminalized, it will probably be controlled much like alcohol is--certain purveyors will be granted licenses at great expense; sin-taxes will be implemented; and the industry will be heavily regulated.

In the meantime, it might be a good idea to go to Massachusetts if you feel like burning a fatty.

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