For our last meeting at the El Cajon Blvd Coco’s, I thought we would cover a topic that has been in the news a lot this last election cycle: Marijuana legalization. As you probably know, Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana possession via initiative last November. Is this the beginning of legal pot? Well, both federal law and international treaties we are a party to prohibit marijuana’s legalization. Moreover, the Obama Administration has been pretty aggressive in cracking down on medical marijuana. However, public support for legalization is now approaching 50%, and there is some momentum to reexamine the need to keep marijuana a part of the 30 year-old War on Drugs.
We certainly can debate the merits of legalization. However, we did that on last April, and the arguments are pretty well-known. My idea on this one is for us to discuss what might actually happen if we legalized pot. Were pot treated like alcohol – or even more liberally what might develop in terms of:
- Pot’s increased use and the consequences to society;
- How a legal industry would develop and be regulated and taxed;
- The impact on law enforcement and incarceration rates;
- U.S. foreign policy impacts, especially with Mexico and treaty-wise.
I’ll open on Monday by (1) explaining what CO and WA legalized, and then I’ll briefly (2) list the major concerns about what would happen if the drug were to be legalized nationwide. FYI, I still do not favor legalization, but I’m close to reversing this position.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS –
- What did CO and WA legalize and what remains illegal? How are they preparing for it?
- Will the Obama Administration allow these and/or other state experiments in legalization to go forward? Will Congress and/or the courts? What conditions might they impose on states?
- What impacts (good and bad) would legalization have on society, per the above bullet points?
- If legalization is not the answer, or if it is blocked, what else could be done to rationalize drug laws and policies?
- Pros and cons:
- Your must reads: Two reviews and summaries of a recent, balanced, and serious book, “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.
- Experts try to predict the federal response to WA and CO legalization. For the moment, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, meaning it’s officially as addictive as heroin, and more addictive than cocaine. Really.
- Legalizing pot would NOT have much impact on the global drug war.
I’m sending an email to various local political groups that might be interested in this topic, so maybe we’ll get some new blood. Tell a friend!