By Anthony Martinelli, Communications Director, Sensible Washington
Cannabis prohibition has failed. It’s time we take a sensible approach to our cannabis policies, and legalize it for adults.
As Sensible Washington moves forward in preparation of our 2013 initiative, and as the conversation continues to gain momentum throughout the country, here are some key reasons why we should re-legalize cannabis:
- Cannabis prohibition has inflated our prison populations with nonviolent individuals. Many have heard this statistic before, but it’s a powerful one: as a nation we possess 5% of the world’s population, yet harbor 25% of the world’s prisoners. The failed war on drugs (which has primarily been a war on cannabis) plays a large part in this.
- Without full legalization the black-market will continue to thrive, financially benefiting criminal organizations, and further endangering public safety. This dangerous black-market has fueled violent crime throughout the country, and many of the most dangerous criminal syndicates get a majority of their profit from the illegal cannabis market. For example, Mexican drug cartels, which have been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in recent years, gain roughly 60% of their profit from U.S. marijuana sales.
- Cannabis is a multi-billion dollar industry. One of the top cash crops in our country. Legalization would bring a substantial and worthy revenue boost at a time when we could desperately use it.
- Legalization would create jobs. If we legalize one of the top cash crops in the country – one that for decades has benefited the black-market – we’ll legitimatize an industry that will quickly generate tens of thousands of jobs throughout the state and nation. Medical cannabis has already created thousands of jobs throughout the country, yet these workers are subject to arrest working at locations that are allowed under state law. Our national job market isn’t strong enough to ignore what will surely be an expansive new industry.
- Cannabis prohibition ruins lives. Whether it’s a student losing college loan and grant money, a parent being refused employment or food stamps because of a current or past cannabis related conviction, or a person being sentenced to life in prison, cannabis prohibition consistently destroys the lives of those undeserving of such punishment.
- Prohibition disproportionately affects minorities. Studies consistently show this to be true. For example, according to past reports, African-Americans and Hispanics make up 20% of cannabis consumers in the country, yet comprise nearly 60% of those sentenced under federal law. Further reports show that African-Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana offense than someone who’s white (3 times more likely if they’re Hispanic), and 8 times more likely to go to jail for a drug offense.
- Cannabis is a vastly beneficial medicine, yet, because of prohibition, we refuse to take full advantage of what this plant has to offer, and we continue to imprison and ruin the lives of medical patients. We need to repeal cannabis prohibition in order to fully protect those who truly need it, and so that we can end the federal blockade on further research.
- An end to cannabis prohibition is an end to hemp prohibition. Hemp is one of the most diverse and useful products on the planet. It’s illegality is a travesty, as is the fact that we import hundreds of millions of dollars of hemp from Canada and China, rather than allowing our farmers to take advantage of this useful crop.
- Cannabis is a non-lethal and therapeutically beneficial substance that adults should have the right to use without fear of criminal prosecution. The government has no right punishing an individual for their choice to use a safer and non-lethal alternative to legal substances such as alcohol.
- It’s a plant. Outlawing nature in its rawest form should always be seen as unacceptable.