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Turnaround on Legalization of Marijuana?

 

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mccain-tucsonSenator John McCain recently came out on record at a town hall meeting stating that it may be time to begin legalizing marijuana nationwide to his Arizona audience.

McCain is certainly echoing his constituents growing sentiments on the legalization of the drug, as 56% of the state’s population currently favor the legalization of marijuana is small doses only for personal use. Even the Republican party as a whole, normally a staunch opponent of legalization of drugs is gaining a lot of supporters of legalization, with 41% of the party for the decriminalization of cannabis.

With many states dealing with budget issues and poor economic outlook, decriminalizing the drug may be a great economic solution to these crises. States spent about $3.6 billionin 2010 enforcing marijuana laws, including fees for arrests, booking, and jail time. If ddecriminalization of the drug occurred, that cost could be reduced by a large percent and be put into other areas of the states’ budgets that desperately need it, such as the failing public school system, health care, or even sent back to the tax payers as a tax break.

The decriminalization of the drug instead of completely legalizing it would result in much less spent on arrests and enforcements, but it would still not bring marijuana into the mainstream. Vermont’s new marijuana law does not legalize the drug, but it makes it so possession of a small amount of the drug is cited as a civil offense like a traffic ticket, with fines starting at $200 and quickly going up for repeat offenses. The state still prosecutes people for possession of more than an ounce of the rug, so the state is only decriminalizing the drug for personal use and it will still carry punishment for any users who are caught. This does not include personally cultivating cannabis from seeds.

projected-deficit-marijuana

McCain may or may not be right on the legalization of the drug, but the decriminalization of the drug may be an excellent primary goal. Re-evaluation might be in place to help reduce the large enforcement costs of the drug for recreational users and it would still punish those who have it on the street. It may be a logical compromise that would make people on both sides happy.

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