Marijuana Legalization, “We’ll Do Something Next Year”.

An Interim Joint hearing of the Licensing and Occupations Committee will be held on 8 July, 2016 focusing on Senate Bill 13, the legalization of marijuana in Kentucky. Long in coming, the Assembly has held many hearings over the last 4 years and as we were told in 2012, we will have interim hearings in the summer and do something next year. This year we have been told the same thing by Senator Schickel, Chairman of the Licensing Committee that, “we will do something next year”.

It is hard to imagine what we could possibly uncover that hasn’t been found by the 26 states and District of Columbia that have already vetted legalizing marijuana. Proof is in the pudding as is said and there’s plenty of proof of the safety and efficacy of marijuana and none of the claimed harms of marijuana we have been subject to have materialized.

I attended what was billed as a ‘Marijuana Summit’ held in Covington Kentucky on 1 Dec 2015. During one segment the host a MR. Tony Coder regaled us with a story about how he broke California law and got a medical marijuana program card to show first, how easy it was to lie and get one, and to show how anyone can get marijuana in a medical marijuana state.

I immediately spoke up and said, “You guys always say that. You always say that the citizens in a medical cannabis state can access marijuana any time they want.” I went on to say, “Ok, I’ll give you that, but then you have to give me this. The citizens of California have had a medical cannabis program since 1996, twenty years!   You must tell me exactly when the harms of marijuana legalization predicted by you guys are gonna show up? How much longer should we wait for these terrible things to rear their ugly heads?

The reality of the citizens of California accessing marijuana for twenty years is ‘nada’, nothing has happened. Not one of the predicted harms have happened. Nor have they happened in any of the 26 States with medical cannabis laws or the states that have passed recreational cannabis laws.

What has happened is truly remarkable. Colorado is a perfect example of what a comprehensive marijuana legalization policy can accomplish. Colorado collected 135 million in taxes from 947 million in sales for 2015. Slightly more than half from recreational sales. More than 20,000 jobs have been created in the industry and these numbers do not take into account the millions in ancillary economic activity driving the state economy.

Legalizing marijuana, an industry that traditionally belongs to Kentucky, has such far reaching benefits for our people it is a wonder we were not the first to legalize rather than being one of the last. Many of our citizens claim they do not trust or believe the federal government, yet on this issue they somehow do, even when the evidence of the Governments deception on this issue is undisputable!

The cover story in the April 2016 edition of Harper’s Magazine titled, “Legalize it all” with the subtitle “How to Win the War on Drugs” written by Dan Baum recalls an interview with President Nixon aide John Ehrlichman. Mister Baum was asking questions about the politics of drug prohibition and as he tells it, Ehrlichman asked, “You want to know what this was really all about?” He went on to say, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Let’s stop this ‘drug war game’, take what works best from those who have already legalized and build a program that will revitalize our eastern counties and benefit all our citizens.

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