The Marijuana Dilemma

September 4, 2013

Back when the Walrus was just a pup, the great George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Another version is printed as “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

However we weave the words, the concept is that we can look back at history, and use the outcomes from various actions to inform what might happen in the present should we repeat an action from the past.

It could be a military action: The outcomes from the Vietnam War could have provided a lesson to the U.S. in 2001 that invading foreign countries over ideological and/or religious principles is an absolute exercise in futility. Instead, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and now is contemplating military sanctions against Syria.

It could be an industrial action: The outcomes from the Love Canal saga in Niagara Falls, NY where the NYS Health Department proclaimed this as a “national symbol of a failure to exercise a sense of concern for future generations” could have provided a lesson to the U.S. in 2005 when the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was substantially amended.

Instead of using the mistakes of the past to inform us in the present, the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains a provision that has come to be known as the “Halliburton Loophole” — an exemption that excludes gas drilling and extraction activities (popularly known as ‘fracking’) from requirements in the SDWA by making the chemicals found within fracking fluid a “trade secret” – thus exempting them from any regulatory oversight.

It could be a social action:. Prohibition – implemented in 1920 as a result of the 18th Amendment – came about from presumably well-intentioned activity championed by The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). They believed that banning alcohol would reduce domestic violence, child abuse, and crime.

By the time Prohibition was repealed (1933) by ratification of the 21st Amendment, it should have been clear that even an amendment to the U.S. Constitution wasn’t going to change human propensity toward relaxation and enjoyment.

Prohibition didn’t work at the basic human level, and it helped to create an off-the-grid economy which brought all of the activities of manufacture, distribution and retailing of alcoholic beverages out of the legitimate economy where it was regulated and taxed, into a shadow economy which ostensibly was controlled by organized crime and bootleggers.

Before Prohibition, the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages was regulated and taxed, providing a net positive benefit to government operations; after, the enforcement costs spiraled while revenue disappeared.

Prohibition of alcohol was repealed in 1933, yet 80 years later, we continue to make growing, distribution and consumption of marijuana a criminal activity.

As a nation, we are spending somewhere near $6 Billion annually to attempt to enforce archaic regulations pertaining to marijuana related activities.

We receive no income taxes, no sales taxes and no revenue taxes related to marijuana production, distribution or sales. There is plenty of legitimate research which shows that marijuana is less harmful. – In fact, more salubrious – than alcohol.

As a taxpayer, I say, “stop wasting my tax dollars on pointless enforcement; legalize, regulate and tax marijuana; and reduce my property and income tax burden attributable to archaic and foolish laws and regulations!”

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