Hey Politicians, Reforming Marijuana Laws is Smart Politics

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) signed on to Barney Frank's marijuana decriminalization bill because he thought it was the right thing to do. He certainly wasn't trying to score political points, but look what happened:

Clay was worried about the reaction. Supporting the liberalization of marijuana laws is not often seen as a political winner, especially in Midwestern cities like St. Louis.

But instead of stoner jokes, derision and righteous indignation, Clay was surprised to start getting praise from complete strangers.

“People are coming up to me saying this is a common-sense, sensible way to deal with the issue of personal use,” Clay said.

So far, he said, his calls, mail and contacts are running 80-20 in favor of the bill. He was impressed enough that he decided to go ahead and step before the cameras last week with Frank and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) at a news conference touting the bill. [The Hill]


One of the most pernicious artifacts still tainting the marijuana policy debate is the false notion that reforming marijuana laws is "politically risky." As Lacy Clay just learned, it isn't nearly that simple. Support for marijuana legalization has increased steadily for the last 20 years, according to a 2005 Gallup poll. While full legalization is still not the majority position, decriminalization enjoys 72% support according to Time/CNN.

It is just a fact that most Americans believe our marijuana laws are deeply flawed. This view continues to gain momentum despite mountains of misleading government propaganda designed to achieve the opposite effect. We are on a trajectory towards reform in terms of public opinion, yet many of our politicians remain hamstrung by antiquated conventional political wisdom, which holds that reform can't be marketed to the public. It's wrong, and it can be proven so through a process as simple as voting for decriminalization and watching as your constituents glow with praise and enthusiasm.

It is really just a matter of time before the political viability of marijuana reform is fully revealed, and when that happens, I suspect we'll discover that our movement has friends we didn't know about.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Legalize!

In my opinion the only reason more people aren't supporting full legalization is because they simply don't know what it means. And that's understandable.

For many it's going to drum up an image of making everything that's currently illegal, legal. All the criminal gangs dealing marijuana would suddenly be doing so legally, all the marijuana smuggled in from Mexico and sold by teenagers at our schools would suddenly be done so legally, all the weed grown on public land and in grow houses would suddenly become legally grown weed, and no restrictions could be placed on anyone or anything if it's done in the name of marijuana.

Well, that's not actually what a legalized marijuana market is about. It is about approving the production and sale of marijuana by honest businessmen. It is about taxing and regulating a market that is currently untaxed and unregulated. And it is about forcing out the gangs and criminal organizations by undercutting their prices to a point where they can no longer make a profit and stay in the market.

Just as the law currently recognizes a distinction between bootlegging and legal alcohol production it will also recognize a distinction between illegal marijuana production and legal production by authorized growers. And just as the law recognizes the legal sale of alcohol it will also recognize the distinction between the legal sale of marijuana in approved establishments from its illegal sale by non-approved, unregulated and untaxed dealers.

Legalized marijuana will reduce the availability of marijuana to minors, generate in the order of $30 billion in tax revenues annually and end the discrimination of law-abiding citizens whose only crime is that they prefer to relax with marijuana instead of alcohol.

positive legal marajuana

its time for this government to end its paranoid criminalization on a simple, plant, herb. having visited Amsterdam several times in my life, i found it freeing to be able to smoke herb in public, there was no craziness from people doing this either. just a lot of pleasantly stoned people. and think of all the taxes that could be raised from this harmless herb! I prefer marajuana to alcahol myself, since it never has given me a hangover, and is not habit forming as some people would have you believe. thank you.

anonymous

Free the Slaves!

Decriminalization is about human compassion. How can altering one's consciousness be a serious crime that warrents a legalized form of persecution? Marijuana consumers are facing a similar abuse that religious or racial descriminates endured in the past. Then we learned that one group of people can not be singled out and treated less than human.

The decriminalization stance is a stance for equal rights, and fair treatment. Going the other way is a vote for human abuse. It is only a matter of time before more polititions wake up to this reality. Those left behind will look like racists, gay bashers, or Nazis.

We should legalize it so

We should legalize it so that all the airplane mechanics, bus drivers, teachers and surgeons can smoke all they want.

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