Justification of legalization

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

I have heard the benefits of legalization of marijuana, and I would like to ask: What about the cons? Among the reasons cited for legalization is the revenue the states will get from taxing reefer, but the Colorado Futures Center wrote a report claiming that the state may actually lose money by legalizing marijuana, due to the societal harm it will cause (“law enforcement, public health and human services”).

Another reason people say marijuana needs to be legal is that people get arrested for possession too often, but even that is a myth, as according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only seven-tenths of a percent of people in jail are there for only marijuana possession, and many of them plea bargained their way down to just possession. In fact, according to the White House, the risk of arrest for just possession of a joint is one “arrest for every 12,000 joints.”

Legalization under the most supported plan of high taxation would do very little to curb organized crime, according to www.whitehouse.gov. “Under the most commonly proposed legalization regime—one that imposes high taxes on marijuana—violent drug cartels would simply undercut legal prices to keep their market share. With increased demand for marijuana resulting from legalization, these groups would likely grow stronger.”

Seeing all of this, what is the rational for your support of legalized marijuana?


Here is my answer: So what?

Your first argument against marijuana legalization is that it won’t make enough money. You cite a report from the Colorado Futures Center. I read that report. Amendment 64 dedicates the first $40 million to Colorado’s Building Excellent Schools Today program. The CFC expects cannabis sales to generate about “only” $21.7 million.

Since when is making $21.7 million a bad thing? That’s $21.7 million that Colorado didn’t have before.

Also, the CFC report uses a baseline of $600 per pound. As if. Right now, cannabis sells for at least $800, usually around $1,200 per pound. And that’s for average weed. So, I think your numbers are skewed. And that report only takes into account Coloradans purchasing weed. If you think that marijuana tourism won’t put a few more million dollars in the kitty, ask Napa County how the wine-tourism industry is doing.

As to the whole one “arrest per 12,000 joints” argument, it would seem to me that your point is: “Only a few people are going to jail, so why should we change the law?” Has it occurred to you that no one should go to jail for marijuana? Arrest statistics aren’t just faceless numbers. They are actual, living people, with families and jobs and hopes and dreams. And sometimes, people get outrageous sentences for small amounts of weed. Is that fair or right? Check out “Ten worst sentences for marijuana-related crimes” on www.salon.com and get back to me.

Your www.whitehouse.gov argument is also no good. Who wants to buy weed from a cartel when you can go to the corner store? Also, the CFC report doesn’t expect much increase in demand, remember? But I do thank you for your time, and I look forward to your response.