Marijuana Decriminalization vs. Legalization.

Mark Kleiman elaborates on his reasoning for why marijuana should be illegal to sell, but not illegal to possess--he doesn't want to see a fully commercialized marijuana industry:

So the prospect of a legal cannabis industry working hard to produce as many chronic stoners as possible, and fighting hard against any sort of effective regulation, fills me with fear. I don't believe that the actual tobacco companies would enter the cannabis market, but I don't doubt that the cannabis companies that would emerge from full commercial legalization would have all of morals the tobacco outfits morals, and a less tainted product to sell.

E.D. Kain doesn't like the idea, and prefers outright legalization and commercialization:

Furthermore, I’m much more afraid of violent drug dealers, over-eager SWAT teams, and the whole awful black market cycle of violence than I am about the lobbying arms of a few big corporations which apparently fill Kleiman with fear. I’ll take lobbyists over drug cartels any day.

I think Kain is missing at least part of Kleiman's point. The whole idea behind decriminalizing marijuana possession is to eliminate the "black market cycle of violence"; since people wouldn't necessarily be dependent on dealers, dealers would have a hard time plying a lucrative trade, and paramilitary SWAT teams wouldn't be shooting dogs and old ladies trying to get at the hidden cannabis stash of a 72 year-old with cataracts.

Second, while I'm not quite sure where I stand on the choice between legalization and decriminalization, I do think that marijuana abuse is a relatively minor problem. I'd like to preserve that status quo while eliminating the draconian penalties and absurd amount of law-enforcement resources devoted to preventing people from toking. But I think Kain is being a bit to dismissive in arguing that there would be no adverse consequences from the mass marketing of marijuana. It seems entirely possible to me that commercializing the drug could create a problem where none really exists -- businesses have to make a profit; someone growing their own doesn't. A world where a smaller, less profitable illicit market that continues to exist looks a lot like our own without the outsize penalties and adverse consequences of over-enforcement. I'm not sure what a world with a fully commercialized marijuana industry that profits from turning people into potheads looks like, but it makes me nervous.

You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)

Connect
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Advertisement