Has it come to this? Kentucky State Representative Robert Benvenuti claimed, at the recent House Health and Welfare Committee hearing on SB43 the Cannabis Compassion Act, that he could, “fill this committee room with first responders, law enforcement officers and parents of dead children based on the effects of marijuana!” Are the arguments for continuing the prohibition of marijuana, even for the sick and disabled, so bereft of science and logic that our legislators must embarrass themselves with such ridiculous and inflammatory statements?
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have passed and implemented medical marijuana laws. Two states have legalized marijuana for recreational uses. Some of these laws have been in place for more than a decade and a half. Surely the claims of those who would keep prohibition going would have surfaced by now. Clearly, ending marijuana prohibition whether for industrial, recreational or medical use has not caused the collapse of the Republic!
What legalization will do is bring into the open the huge black market that currently exists. It is estimated that 24 million Americans are regular marijuana users, and that half of all Americans have used marijuana at some time in their lives. That probably accounts for recent polling showing just over half, 54% of Americans favor ending marijuana prohibition completely. Kentuckians, according to the Kentucky Health Issues Poll favor allowing for medical marijuana by 78%.
Here in Kentucky ending marijuana prohibition just for medical uses would stir millions in economic activity. With the decline of the coal industry and the fact that the soil and climate of Eastern Kentucky is perfect for marijuana cultivation, passage of SB43 would create hundreds of jobs and agricultural opportunities. We also have a reputation for growing some of the best marijuana in the world and we should capitalize on that reputation. Most importantly, you will be bringing relief and security to those whose conditions will not let them wait for passage of this bill. It will allow for control and regulation of the medical marijuana industry here in Kentucky which does not now exist.
Some have called for decriminalization as sort of a half measure, instead of legalization. This just leaves all the bad things about prohibition in place. Police will still be stopping people and pulling them over to look for marijuana. Still be raiding houses because some schmuck shared a ¼ pound with his friends, (dealing), and sometimes raiding the wrong house and killing someone, as has happened all too often. The Cartels will still be collecting the profits, controlling the price, the distribution and worst of all, the age of the customers, and Kentucky will collect no revenue. I could go on but I think you get the picture.
Let’s think of the Cannabis Compassion Act, SB43, as a test. It’s not full legalization and enough people will have access to marijuana, that if its passage is a bad idea it will become obvious pretty quickly and you can change or reverse the law if you want to. The prohibitionists, the ones who want to keep prohibition going, have had 77 years to prove that prohibition works and they haven’t proven it yet. How about you give those of us who believe prohibition was a mistake a chance to prove our point, that ending prohibition is a good thing? How about passing SB43 the Cannabis Compassion Act? You will be helping thousands of our citizen deal with their conditions and doing good for our economy and for our State.