The one election outcome I actually cared about yesterday went the way I wanted it. I am referring to Colorado’s Amendment 64, which regulates marijuana in a similar manner to alcohol. It is basically full legalization of pot for adults over 21. It essentially:
- Makes the personal use, possession, and limited home-growing of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older;
- Establishes a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol; and
- Allows for the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.
I’m proud to say that my state of Colorado led the way nationally by becoming the first state to legalize marijuana (although Washington passed a similar measure shortly after). I supported this Amendment and voted yes on it for several reasons.
1) Based on personal experience as well as observations of others I believe that marijuana is a much more benign drug than alcohol, and in fact I think its benefits to society outweigh the negatives. Like with anything in life, moderation is key.
2) I philosophically do not believe the Federal government should have any say in what people put into their bodies. This is not to say that I believe the full legalization of all drugs is ideal. For example, I would vote against the legalization of harder drugs like cocaine or heroin in Colorado if that was on the ballot. That’s not to say I don’t think it has a right to be on the ballot, it’s just that I would vote against it. We have 50 states for a reason. These individual communities should be able to decide for themselves what they want to allow within their respective borders. The Federal government should have absolutely zero say on this matter.
3) It’s about time we had a little confrontation with the Federal government on the issue of States rights. As has been documented endlessly, civil liberties have been decimated since 9/11 and the overreaction to the endless “war on terror.” The Federal government has become bolder, more aggressive and increasingly tyrannical. While the degree is debatable the trend is not. Marijuana legalization provides the ideal battleground on the issue of States rights at the moment. The measure passed in a landslide in Colorado. 55% voted yes and 45% voted no (Obama only won the state 51% vs. 46%). The people have clearly spoken.
So now this sets up a potentially epic battle. The Huffington Post put out a great article highlighting the potential confrontation in its article “Amendment 64: Will Colorado Voters Legalize Marijuana On Election Day 2012?” Here are some of my favorite passages:
However, the big unknown still is if the federal government would allow a regulated marijuana market to take shape. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was a vocal opponent of California’s legalization initiative in 2010 saying he would “vigorously enforce” federal marijuana prohibition, has continued to remain silent on the issue this year.
In September, Holder was urged by nine former heads of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to take a stand against marijuana legalization again. “To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public and the global community a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives,” the nine said in the letter to holder obtained by Reuters.
The drug warriors say that states that legalize marijuana for recreational use will trigger a “Constitutional showdown” with the federal government.
Bring. It. On.
4) The “war on drugs” is violent, expensive and idiotic. As the years have passed, people have come to realize how ridiculous the “war on drugs” really is. The Economist recently published an excellent article titled: “Legalizing marijuana: The View from Mexico.” In the article we discover the biggest losers would probably be the Mexican Drug Cartels:
The impact on Mexico could be profound. Between 40% and 70% of American pot is reckoned to be grown in Mexico.
In Mexico relatively few people take drugs. But many are murdered as a result of the export business. About 60,000 have been killed by organized crime during the past six years. Thousands more have disappeared. Many Mexicans therefore wonder if America might consider a new approach. Felipe Calderon, the president, has said that if Americans cannot bring themselves to stop buying drugs, they ought to consider “market alternatives”, by which he means legalization. Vicente Fox and Ernesto Zedillo, the two previous presidents of Mexico, have reached the same conclusion.
As a result, it estimates that Mexico’s traffickers would lose about $1.4 billion of their $2 billion revenues from marijuana. The effect on some groups would be severe: the Sinaloa “cartel” would lose up to half its total income, IMCO reckons. Exports of other drugs, from cocaine to methamphetamine, would become less competitive, as the traffickers’ fixed costs (from torturing rivals to bribing American and Mexican border officials) would remain unchanged, even as marijuana revenues fell.
It’s interesting that the two states to legalize marijuana both voted for Obama in this election. Will he now betray all these faithful voters? Based on his first term performance, you can count on it. Your move Mr. Holder.