Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Role of the Alternative Media in Covering Cannabis Legalization
By Staff News & Analysis - June 30, 2014

Six Months of Legal Marijuana And Colorado Has More Cash And Less Crime … With the passage of Amendment 64 in November 2012, Colorado made history and became one of the first two states to approve legal regulation of the cultivation, manufacture and sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over. Colorado has become a proving ground to demonstrate the positive impacts of regulation instead of prohibition – and hopefully will promote similar efforts elsewhere. – Drug Policy Alliance

Dominant Social Theme: When we legalize drugs, we legalize criminality.

Free-Market Analysis: The nightmare of law enforcement is having crime go down when criminal acts are legalized. That seems to be what's happening when it comes to marijuana.

The above Drug Policy Analysis article was reposted around the Internet because it makes this point. And one can extrapolate that some or even much of the lawlessness that government intends to protect us from likely doesn't exist.

Take zoning, for instance. Zoning was supposedly instituted in the US because business patrons were causing various problems for homeowners. The solution was segregation of housing and commerce.

And yet … the old-fashioned townhouse included a shop at the bottom, a backroom for stocking and production and an upstairs for living.

Zoning up-ended this compact and efficient habitation. Zoning split housing from shop-keeping, creating a situation where vast tracts of homes where jammed together, creating multiple targets for break-ins. Additionally, because shop-keepers no longer lived above their businesses, shops became easy targets for crime as well.

There are always unintended consequences when regulation is imposed. And certainly that goes for regulation surrounding so-called victimless crimes like drugs.

Here's more from the article:

Despite warnings from legalization opponents, Colorado looks pretty much the same as ever since regulation, if not better. Crime is down, the economy is sound, and there remains strong overall support for legalization throughout the state. Even the state's Director of Marijuana Coordination was quick to note recently that "the sky hasn't fallen" since the first retail shops opened on January 1st.

Though it is far too early to make any definitive declarations about emerging social trends, there are some promising indications that things are moving in the right direction here in Colorado:

* According to Uniform Crime Reporting data for Denver, there has been a 10.1% decrease in overall crime from this time last year and a 5.2% drop in violent crime.

* The state has garnered over 10 million in taxes from retail sales in the first 4 months. The first 40 million of this tax revenue is earmarked for public schools and infrastructure, as well as for youth educational campaigns about substance use.

* There are renewed efforts to study the medical efficacy of marijuana within the state, making Colorado an epicenter for marijuana research.

* The marijuana industry has developed quickly, generating thousands of new jobs. It is estimated there are currently about 10,000 people directly involved with this industry, with 1,000 to 2,000 gaining employment in the past few months alone.

* Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who opposed Amendment 64, recently compared Colorado's economy since legalization to that of other states by noting, "While the rest of the country's economy is slowly picking back up, we're thriving here in Colorado." For example, the demand for commercial real estate has increased drastically, with houses in the state appreciating up to 8.7 percent in the past year alone.

* The voters of Colorado retain an overall positive view of the regulated marijuana market, with 54% of Colorado voters still supporting marijuana legalization and regulation, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

* By removing criminal penalties for certain marijuana-related offenses, thousands of individuals will avoid the collateral consequences associated with a criminal record. The state is estimated to potentially save $12-40 million over the span of a year simply by ending arrests for marijuana possession.

The article goes on to point out the changing status of marijuana is proving the prohibitionists wrong. "Colorado and Washington have already changed the dialogue about drug prohibition throughout the U.S. and around the world."

It is likely that further legalization and decriminalization of marijuana will continue to prove out this article's thesis: Legalizing cannabis, hemp, etc. is not going to create a crime wave. On the contrary, it will likely create a good many jobs, a thriving additional industry and improve the quality of life for many who will enjoy the plant recreationally or use it medicinally.

One could, of course, extend this observation to numerous other so-called victimless crimes where both parties consent to the so-called criminal activity. But as marijuana continues to be legalized and decriminalized, we doubt we will hear much about plunging crime rates or even the positives of marijuana consumption.

Law enforcement is big business in the US and elsewhere as well; most of the conversation regarding legal drug taking will probably continue to be focused on ways that society can be secured from the expanding criminal possibilities of legalization.

What is needed is a national – even international – discussion about how criminality is reported, what constitutes a crime and why prohibition so often proves to be an expensive failure. Marijuana legalization provides the opportunity to have such a conversation but the chances that law enforcement will encourage it or participate in it is unfortunately not large.

After Thoughts

Perhaps the 'Net alternative press can cover the reality of marijuana legalization and the benefits of legalization as opposed to prohibition … as the mainstream media likely will not, either.

Posted in Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS