A smarter approach to regulating marijuana

On NPR today I heard two stories that point to smarter ways of looking at the regulation of marijuana through capitalism. In the first, Uruguay, a small South American county, realized that there was a contradiction in its laws. While  the country had de-criminalized marijuana use, obtaining the drug had been a crime. This forced buyers to obtain it through illegal means, which fed the coffers of organized crime. Now, Uruguay has a new law that will create a state monopoly that allows the government to regulate and collect taxes much like alcohol is taxed. The law faces opposition from people using things like the tired old “marijuana is a gateway drug” myth. For years, this idea has been promoted without a shred of evidence to promote it. What we do know is the incredible cost of the war on drugs in South America and the United States. Thousands of people have been killed, hundreds have been imprisoned and yet marijuana grows more popular with laws to legalize medical and recreational use of the drug.

The second marijuana related story follows from the legal marijuana industry in the United States. Justin Hartfield has a new business that invests in marijuana related companies. It’s old fashioned capitalism. The one elephant in the room that could wreck this business model is federal marijuana law enforcement. And there are many vested interests including the prison guards who like things just the way things are, with laws that reduce a judge’s flexibility in dealing with people who  are convicted  of a crime and too many non-violent drug offenders in prison. Potentially there are billions of dollars at stake in taking an approach of regulating and taxing marijuana and abandoning our expensive and unsuccessful current strategies. Let Hartfield help grow the pot industry and create jobs in a whole new area while letting thousands of people become productive citizens.




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