138 I saw a news piece on television over the holidays that was posing the question, What happens when the War in Afghanistan, the War On Terror is over? For example, the legislation allowing for the killing and imprisoning of ‘enemy combatants’ will expire. The next question is how to go about repatriating prisoners and closing the prison when there exists legislation that specifically forbids using tax dollars to repatriate prisoners or close the prison.
Along the same line it seems our longest war, the War On Drugs, 98 years, is coming to a close also. A large number of states 18 as of the 2012 elections, have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes and two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Mandatory minimum sentencing is being recognized for the misery it causes as the crack / cocaine disparity is also being ended. Portugal, by changing it’s policy from one of prohibition to one of harm reduction eleven years ago has seen all the markers by which we measure the damage from drug use and abuse reduced by half.
Washington and Colorado having ended marijuana prohibition in their states, set the example by releasing and dropping the charges of hundreds of marijuana cases. Lest you think no one gets arrested for marijuana these days, think about this. Even with medical marijuana laws in 18 states we still manage to arrest more than 750,000 citizens a year for it. Hopefully the end of marijuana prohibition will find the other states following the example of Washington and Colorado.
Here in Kentucky we have the perfect opportunity to begin the end of prohibition as policy by ending the prohibition of marijuana in all its uses, medical, industrial and recreational. The Hemp bill and the Gatewood Galbraith Memorial Medical Marijuana bill both seek to legalize marijuana for medical and industrial uses. Our legislators could show great leadership and foresight and just legalize marijuana across the board as Washington and Colorado have done.
The chance to bring Kentucky into the 21st century on the marijuana issue will also generate hundreds of millions in economic activity and millions in tax and licensing revenue to the state. The Governor and the assembly are always talking about expanding commerce and increasing revenue and it is beyond comprehension why we aren’t tapping this lucrative market for our state. Thousands of our citizens need marijuana as medicine and thousands of our farmers need it as an alternative crop. The millions in revenue and economic activity generated by ending marijuana prohibition is too important to our state and it’s financial well being to allow it to be sacrificed on the alter of the failed federal policy of prohibition.