You know that the marijuana debate has has gone main-stream media when TIME Magazine publish two articles within a couple of days of each other, First In California Marijuana Truce, a Legal Gray Area in the U.S. Sunday edtition a story by By Alison Stateman of Los Angeles about the case of Charles C. Lynch and 30 to 40 other individuals who faced or were incarcerated for medical-marijuana-related charges before the Obama Administration relaxed its policy. Lynch was convicted in federal court in 2008 on five counts, including distributing marijuana through his dispensary, Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers, in Morro Bay, Calif. Lynch, 47, who believed he was complying with state laws.
Today an article by Joe klein, with a cool illustration by Stephen Kroninger called: Why Legalizing Marijuana Makes Sense
This article pokes a little fun at the pressure us baby boomers are putting on the government to relax marijuana laws and mentions the big brouhaha that arose over Obama’s response to citizens seeking an answer to the marijuana question during his recent electronic town-hall meeting. Also, there’s were some alarming facts reported in this article, which would lead any reader to agree that some serious consideration must be given to this debate.
But there are big issues here, issues of economy and simple justice, especially on the sentencing side. As Webb pointed out in a cover story in Parade magazine, the U.S. is, by far, the most “criminal” country in the world, with 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners. We spend $68 billion per year on corrections, and one-third of those being corrected are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. We spend about $150 billion on policing and courts, and 47.5% of all arrests are marijuana-related. That is an awful lot of money, most of it nonfederal, that could be spent on better schools or infrastructure — or simply returned to the public. See: (Top 10 ballot measures.)
At the same time, there is an enormous potential windfall in the taxation of marijuana. It is estimated that pot is the largest cash crop in California, with annual revenues approaching $14 billion. A 10% pot tax would yield $1.4 billion in California alone. And that’s probably a fraction of the revenues that would be available — and of the economic impact, with thousands of new jobs in agriculture, packaging, marketing and advertising. A veritable marijuana economic-stimulus package! (Read: “Is Pot Good For You?”)
My feeling is that it’s not Reefer Time yet but good honest reporting is reaching the population.