Ninety-five years ago, alcohol was deemed such a dangerous substance that it was made illegal in the United States. The prohibition of alcohol lasted thirteen years, and in that time alcohol was more prevalent that ever. It caused otherwise law-abiding citizens to become criminals and associate with crime syndicates that were allowed to flourish within the nation’s desire, and right, to consume alcohol. Many of the famous gangsters of the time gained power and status solely due to the back market created by prohibition. Many believe that it was prohibition itself that created what Americans know of organized crime. It has been over 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana. In that time the ban has inflicted enormous harm on society and again forced average Americans to interact with criminals for access to a medically substantial substance that is far less dangerous than alcohol.
Despite the countless personal testimonials claiming cannabis saved the life of a loved one, and numerous studies that demonstrate medical value, or at least allude to the strong possibility of its efficacy, the Marijuana Movement is battling those who simply ignore the facts. As it was in the twenties, there are obvious financial motivators that cause these selfish prohibitionists to pretend that nothing has changed, but it most definitely has, and Americans are waking up to the lies. Two congressmen have introduced bills that could change the current laws on marijuana nationwide.
Colorado State Representative Jared Polis and Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer have introduced two bills on a federal level that would legalize and tax retail cannabis effectively ending federal marijuana prohibition. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, which would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act’s schedules, transfer oversight of the substance from the Drug Enforcement Administration over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and regulate marijuana similar to how alcohol is currently regulated. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, which would set up a federal excise tax for regulated marijuana.
As with any political maneuver in this country, there is more at stake than just the legalization of marijuana. With the substance being taxed in the same fashion as alcohol, many stand to make a considerable profit from the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act, but it is a step in the right direction. The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act will allow the many parents in need, the access to the medications their children most desperately require. This bill will “leave to the States a power to regulate marijuana” the same way that alcohol is currently regulated. In other words, no state will be forced to legalize marijuana, but a federal regulatory framework would be in place for those that do, and each respective state will have the option to hold an internal vote and decide for themselves.
“It is time for us to replace the failed prohibition with a regulatory system that works and let states and municipalities decide for themselves if they want, or don’t want, to have legal marijuana within their borders.” Representative Blumenauer
Blumenauer said that the federal prohibition of marijuana has been “a failure” and a profound waste of tax dollars that have needlessly ruined lives. Not many who are aware of the current statistics can argue that statement. One need only look at the rise in drug use during this prohibition era to see that prohibition, not only doesn’t work, but causes criminal activity to flourish.
The current prohibition has created a black market just as the last alcohol prohibition had. Just like the prohibition of the twenties, there are those in official positions that have profits directly tied to that black market. It is for this reason that the 40 year marijuana smear campaign has continued far past its necessity. It is for this reason alone that the majority of Americans can be outspoken about marijuana legalization, yet the government continues to ignore the will of the people. It is the democratic right of this country’s constituents to enact change based on the majority will, yet it has been ignored, until now. It has been almost two years since the obvious majority wanted legalization, but it took until now for this change to even be a possibility, ask yourself why. These congressmen are risking professional backlash for doing what is right, and it is still a possibility that these bills might not pass, despite their obvious support with the ruling body of this county, its citizens. Many of those fiscally tied to the Pharmaceutical companies, the prison industries, or some of the U.S. banking industry that had been caught laundering money for drug cartels, will do whatever is needed to maintain this illegal cash cow that is marijuana prohibition. It is left to those who can see past the selfish ends to stand up and speak out.
When a group as large and professionally respected as The New York Times stands up and openly declares that “The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana” it shows just how much the true majority wants the right to choose for themselves. The article claims that “the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems” when discussing potential down sides to legalization, “especially compared with alcohol and tobacco.” They continue on to compare the “gateway theory” to the antiquated “Reefer Madness” propaganda and end with a call-to-action asking congress to end prohibition.
The importance of an editorial such as this can not be overstated. There are many who naively continue to believe that the government, or any government for that matter, has only the people’s best interest in mind; that congress is overflowing with those who’s only concern is to selflessly think of the greater good. It might be a comforting thought to believe in, but the reality is that these positions are filled with people; many of whom may have the desire to do good, but these are people none the less, with flaws and desires just like the rest of humanity. If history has taught any one thing it’s that money and power, or the desire for both, can corrupt the purest of hearts. It is up to the few, who can think of the whole before the individual, to listen to what the people actually need. It is up to the people to stand behind these rare few as the corrupt fight to maintain the tainted status quo. The upcoming decisions that will be made on these bills will show American’s the truth of whether this county is still truly a democracy or just pretends to be.
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