February 1, 2018

Free the Weed

By Glenn

Profits come from perceived scarcity. Products get their value when consumers think they are rare. For example, Tea was relatively abundant in ancient China. It was an inexpensive, everyday household drink.  Europeans, however, couldn’t grow it and paid top dollar to buy this luxury item.  The natural scarcity made European merchants a fortune until others learned how to grow it.

Cannabis, better known as marijuana, is just the opposite; it is a weed.  It will grow almost anywhere.  It is a profitable crop because government prohibition creates an artificial scarcity.  Criminals use the profits to fund their illegal activities and spark turf wars.  Take away the profits, and the criminal element dries up.  It’s high time we free the weed.

The paranoia surrounding cannabis can be traced back to propaganda films like “Reefer Madness.”   The movie falsely portrayed consumers of cannabis as violent madmen.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  In most people, cannabis works in much the same way as alcohol. It is a depressant and about as harmful to the body.  The scare tactics worked.  Instead of treating it like alcohol, the government treats it like heroin and cocaine.

This big government solution worked about as well as prohibition of alcohol did.  The government drove the manufacture and sale of cannabis into the hands of criminals.  On Tuesday President Donald Trump infamously used Mexican drug cartels as an excuse for American taxpayers to build an ineffective, expensive wall.   With planes, boats, tunnels and even submarines, the criminals will simply find another route to profitability.

A better solution is small government.  Free the weed.  Lifting the paranoid prohibition placed on cannabis would destroy the profitability used to fuel crime.  Legitimate businesses would step up to fill the demand.  Just as alcohol companies filled the demand after prohibition.  These companies create jobs and pay taxes.

This process is already under way in Colorado, Washington, and California.  Each has experimented with different approaches to the growing, sale and distribution of cannabis, but the results are the same.  New jobs in agriculture and retail make a positive contribution to their communities.  New tax revenues fund schools not turf wars.

Just like alcohol and tobacco there still could, and should, be responsible regulations.  This production should not be sold to minors nor should it be consumed in bars and restaurants.  Decriminalization would mean that individuals could use it in the privacy of their own homes without fear.  Our criminal justice system and law enforcement could then concentrate on criminals who deal deadly drugs like heroin and cocaine.

The prohibition of alcohol lasted a short thirteen years.   American voters recognized quickly that the restrictive law created the criminal profits.  They saw the changes right before their eyes and didn’t like it.  With freedom came relief.  Legitimate jobs returned, and governments collected a tax on the sale.  We have no reason to doubt that decriminalization of marijuana will have the same results.  It’s time to free the weed.

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