Administration to tighten enforcement of recreational marijuana use
Today, the Trump Administration announced that it would take steps to tighten enforcement of marijuana laws; the focus is legal recreational marijuana use. Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and wonder what on earth they’re thinking. Jeff Sessions, U.S. Attorney General, announced that the federal government was going to revert back to its old policy of cracking down on states that legalized marijuana for recreational use.
Legal recreational marijuana use is a growing trend
Eight states (soon to be nine) and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Twenty-nine states have legalized it for medical use. See State Marijuana Laws in 2017 (Governing Magazine) and Marijuana Legalization in 2018 (Newsweek).
Additional states will legalize recreational marijuana use. Time predicts that 18 states will legalize recreational use by 2020.
Such enforcement benefits no one
Forget about the Trump Administration’s claims about the importance of states’ rights. And pay no attention the fact that there are no cases of fatal marijuana overdoses, or that legalization eliminates the black market and crime, or that research shows that states with legal recreational marijuana have a new tax revenue stream that helps fund schools, educational programs, and law enforcement. Or that the policy that Sessions wants to bring back has wrecked the lives of many people while imposing a burden on the taxpayer through enforcement and incarceration costs that benefit no one. Enforcement, that is, criminalizing legal recreational marijuana use, benefits no one.
It’s time for a new approach
Rather than reverting to failed drug-war policies, Sessions and the Trump Administration should be taking an approach that promotes proper and careful integration of the emerging recreational marijuana business, such as modifying the federal laws to allow the businesses access to the commercial banking system and establishing a regulatory system that keeps marijuana out of the hands of children and away from places where intoxication can be dangerous, such as while driving.
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