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Arresting People For Marijuana Possession Is Fundamentally Unjust And A Waste Of Tax Revenue

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The Mr. Mackey Argument

Here in Missouri, Show-Me Cannabis Regulation has just launched a local initiative in Springfield – Missouri’s third largest city – to decriminalize the possession of up to 35 grams of cannabis. Although we prefer ending the war on cannabis outright, we believe that any measure that saves peaceful people from arrest is a step in the right direction. Arresting people for marijuana possession is fundamentally unjust and a waste of taxpayer resources. That’s our message, but the opposition has opted for something more simplistic:

That is, of course, Mr. Mackey, the school counselor from South Park, using his circular logic to talk to students about drugs. And if you think I’m oversimplifying the opposition’s message, check out the 1:00 mark in this news story from Springfield’s KY3. “Marijuana is bad”, so it should be prohibited; case closed. No need to investigate whether marijuana is more or less harmful than alcohol, or whether our prohibitionist policies pose more of a threat to users than the plant itself.

This refusal to think beyond cliches seems to pervade the prohibitionist mindset all the way to the top, as seen in Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart’s inability to admit that marijuana is less addictive than heroin when questioned by Colorado Congressman Jared Polis. As Polis pressed a clearly flustered Leonhart on the harms of cannabis compared to drugs such as methamphetamine, crack, and heroin, she could only repeat “I believe all illegal drugs are bad.”

Fortunately for those of us who do not accept such evidence-free assertions, scientists have recently begun to compare the harms of different psychotropic substances in an objective way. The most rigorous study of the relative harms of different drugs was published in the respected British medical journal the Lancet in late 2010, and the study’s authors – including a former chief drugs adviser to the British government – found that alcohol was a little more than three and a half times more harmful than cannabis. This study isn’t the last word on the subject, of course, but there is no rigorous scientific work that I am aware of showing cannabis to be more harmful overall than alcohol.

My point is not that we should ban alcohol. We tried that. It failed miserably. The point is that we currently deal with the problems associated with alcohol use as a public health issue, not a criminal one. We urge alcoholics to seek treatment without sending SWAT teams after social drinkers. That policy is working infinitely better than alcohol prohibition. There’s absolutely no reason it wouldn’t work with cannabis.

If you agree that our cannabis policy should be based upon something more than “Marijuana is bad, mmmkay,” please consider donating to Show-Me Cannabis Regulation to help us raise the $6,000 we need to put Springfield’s decriminalization initiative on the November ballot. Right now, the National Cannabis Coalition is matching donations we receive dollar for dollar, so donate now and double your impact!

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John is the campaign director for Show-Me Cannabis Regulation in Missouri and a member of the National Cannabis Coalition‘s board of directors. He first became involved in cannabis law reform when he joined the Students for a Sensible Drug Policy chapter at Washington University in Saint Louis in 2001. After graduating from college, John taught high school social studies before embarking on a career as a writer. He worked for the Show-Me Institute, a think tank that advocates free market policies for the state of Missouri from 2009 to 2011, when he joined Show-Me Cannabis Regulation. His articles have appeared in Young American Revolution, The American Conservative, and Reason Magazine, as well as newspapers across Missouri.

http://show-mecannabis.com

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  • How do you start a Super PAC to promote marijuana legalization candidates?
    (1) http://www.opensecrets.org
    (2) http://www.fec.gov
    The U.S. Supreme Court has made is absolutely clear: you can start
    a Super PAC to promote marijuana legalization candidates.
    Who would want to donate a lot of money to a Super PAC which
    promotes a marijuana legalization candidate?
    (a) Sports figures, and every Major Sports Club in America,
    see daily news, major sports figures are arrested all the
    time for marijuana, the bigger the sports team, the more the
    news coverage on the marjiuana arrest of a major league
    sports team member.
    (b) People who want medical marijuana to be legalized
    under federal law.
    (c) People who want less government control of their
    personal lives. People who feel the government has grown
    like cancer and infringes upon our U.S. Constitutional rights
    to privacy in our homes.
    (d) People who are religious and believe in the Holy Bible,
    Old Testament, Genesis: God Gave Us Every Seed Bearing Plant.
    (e) People who are deeply outraged that private-for-profit
    prisons are making so much money off of prison labor,
    while they are receiving funds from tax payers to imprison
    people, that with the combined profit of tax payers being
    forced to pay taxes to fund private-for-profit prisons and
    the profit from the prison labor, Corrections Corporation
    of America IS NOW SELLING SHARES OF STOCK ON
    NASDAQ.
    (f) People who believe we are suffering from Unfair Trade
    Restriction and Economic Treason because it is legal to
    import hemp products from foreign countries and sell
    them in the United States of America, including selling
    them at Walmart, but it is not legal for farmers in the U.S.A.
    to grow hemp. This is ECONOMIC TREASON.
    (g) People who do not want their children denied any
    college loans or grants simply because they had a
    marijuana conviction as a teenager. Why should a person
    be convicted to a lifetime of ignorance because they
    can’t afford to pay for a college education, which is
    necessary in this complex and high tech civilization?
    Denying kids any college loans and grants because
    of a tiny marijuana conviction as a teenager keeps
    people down, keeps people poor, and is not in
    the best interests of a civilized society.
    (h) People who work in the entertainment industry,
    particularly in California, actors, agents, union members
    are deeply affected by marijuana arrests in their community
    all the time.
    (i) Corporations which currently produce beer and wine will
    be happy to donate to Super PACs to
    promote marijuana legalization candidates because
    when marijuana is legal they will be able to substitute
    a weed which grows like wildflowers, marijuana, for harder
    to grow crops of hops and barley and grapes for beer and wine.
    Marijuana beer at 5% strength and marijuana wine at 10%
    strength will out-sell other beverages.
    What is a Super PAC?
    A Super PAC is a political action committee that asks for millions and
    millions of dollars of donations, and even very small donations,
    from Corporations and People,
    and uses the money to promote a candidate of their own choice.
    The Super PAC is independent from the candidate, and does not
    answer to the candidate at all. The Super PAC promotes the
    candidate exactly the way the Super PAC wants to, even if the
    candidate does not like it. The candidate has no say
    in how the Super PAC promotes the candidate.
    For example, take “NJ Weedman” – Ed Forchion,
    http://tlmp.org
    The Legalize Marijuana Party of New Jersey,
    who sometimes
    appears in videos and photos as a wonderful and wild kind of a
    guy, even extremely wild sometimes.
    But! a Super PAC can find the most conservative photos possible
    of NJ Weedman on the internet, and the most conservative edited
    video clips of him, and edit them even more,
    and promote him to the general public as a nice marijuana
    legalization candidate that the average American family would
    feel comfortable with.
    A Super PAC can use a candidate to get their marijuana legalization
    message across, while appearing to do what is perfectly legal –
    promote a candidate of their choice.
    Cris Ericson is the United States Marijuana Party
    http://usmjp.com
    candidate in Vermont.
    If a Super PAC wanted to promote her, they could use many resources
    on the internet, and edit them for their own purposes.
    Remember, the Super PAC does not answer to the candidate. The
    Super PAC is entirely independent of the candidate and they promote
    the candidate any way they want to, so long as it is legal.
    How do you find information about a candidate to help you start
    a Super PAC and promote the candidate of your choice?
    http://google.com
    http://images.google.com
    http://news.google.com
    http://blogsearch.google.com
    How do you find Corporations and People who might donate money
    to your Super PAC?
    Go to http://news.google.com and search for ‘marijuana’.
    Find all of the news stories of people arrested for marijuana for each
    and every day of the campaign season, and call them or their attorneys
    or their family members and tell them that they really need
    to have a candidate in the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate who
    will work to legalize marijuana.
    Ed Forchion, “NJ Weedman” is running for U.S. House of Representatives
    in the U.S. Congress in the State of New Jersey, and out-of-state
    donations are legal.
    Cris Ericson, United States Marijuana Party in Vermont,
    http://usmjp.com
    is running for
    United States Senator in the United States Congress (there are two
    legislative bodies in the U.S. Congress – House and Senate).
    Out of state donations are legal to the candidate directly.
    Remember, when the candidate receives donations directly, the
    candidate’s election committee decides how best to spend the
    donations to promote the candidate.
    When a Super PAC receives donations, the Super PAC decides
    how to spend the donations to promote the candidate,
    and the Super PAC does not work with the candidate,
    it is an entirely separate legal entity.
    So, the difference between a Super PAC and the candidate’s
    own election committee, is that the Super PAC can “use” a
    candidate to promote their own political agenda, for example,
    marijuana and hemp and cannabis legalization.
    There are at least two marijuana legalization candidates to chose from
    if you are considering creating a Super PAC:
    Cris Ericson http://usmp.com
    United States Marijuana Party
    and
    Ed Forchion http://tlmp.org
    The Legalize Marijuana Party