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Reefer Madness?

There is a new bi-partisan bill in congress, co-sponsored by none other than Ron Paul and Barney Frank (there’s a combination you won’t see often). They have written a bill that lets the states decide on legalization of marijuana within their borders and limiting federal authority ONLY to interstate transport of weed. As weird as the combination of sponsors is on this bill, I think they have made some valid points.

First as a federalist, I believe the Federal Government has taken too many powers from the state. Pushing the responsibility for legalizing/outlawing marijuana back to the states would be consistent with the regulation of other intoxicants such as alcohol. States currently have the power to regulate, tax, or even outlaw the sale of liquor within their states. The Feds are still heavily involved in production, licensing and taxation, but that’s primarily oriented towards collecting the tax revenue due on the product. Limiting the Fed’s power to only interstate traffic of pot seems more in keeping with the original intent of the Interstate Commerce Clause which in my opinion has been much abused to grant Federal authorities far too much power.

Which leads to my second reason for supporting this move. Revenue. Marijuana as a product has a strong demand. So much so that people are willing to risk prison to supply the vast black market that exists for it. If the state and federal governments were to tax legitimate commerce in the plant, the billions generated would go a long way towards solving many of the current budget problems.

A third point is the opposite side of the revenue stream, spending. State and Federal agencies spend huge sums on futile attempts at stopping the import and distribution of marijuana. Not to mention the costs associated with prosecuting and jailing those who are actually caught in the marijuana business. Decriminalizing pot would free up prison space and reduce the need to build new prisons in many areas leaving room for more serious felons.

And perhaps the biggest benefit to bringing commerce in marijuana into the legitimate world is removing the profit from organized criminals. The hundreds of killings along the Mexican border would stop. Without the profit motive from the illegal selling of reefer, the gangs would have no reason to go on their killing sprees.

What are the downsides?

Perhaps marijuana use would increase…. but perhaps not. After the repeal of prohibition people thought alcohol use would be out of control, but it didn’t happen. Yes there were some celebrations when it became legal but alcohol sales didn’t pass pre-prohibition levels until the 1960’s and per-capita use has never returned to the old levels. While no one can guarantee that the same would happen again, it is likely that history will repeat itself.

Dazed and confused?

The only real reason I haven’t fully supported legalization of drugs is the damage they do to individuals. I have relatives who have wasted their lives in pursuit of the next high. It’s sad and pathetic to witness. But the illegality of pot has not slowed them in the least. I’ve also known people who have wasted their lives with alcohol. I think they’d have done the same, prohibition or no. I don’t really have a good solution to addiction problems (well 12 step programs are sometimes effective), but I’m certain that criminalizing marijuana has done nothing to stop them.

Don’t hold your breath.

Whether you agree with me or not, don’t get too excited about this bill. It just isn’t likely to pass the house, let alone become law. So relax and perhaps go watch a movie.

Brian Hibbert
Midwestern conservative, Precinct Committeeman, county GOP Executive Committee secretary and currently a candidate for the Board of Trustees at Illinois Central College. It's amazing what can happen if you just show up and put in a little effort.

26 COMMENTS

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26 COMMENTS

  1. Brian: Is it pure alignment of the stars, or result of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, that on the same day I posted a piece on the ‘opiate of the masses’ you posted on ‘reefer madness’?
    🙂

    • I don’t but purely from a federalist point of view. I think it should be within states’ rights and not that of the federal government. I’d rather see repeal of the federalized drug laws rather than adding to them.

      Besides, it didn’t prove them very tough, did it? Only more expensive than they were before.

      • The passage of this law repeals major portions of federal law making possession of marijuana a federal crime. (You have to a pass a law to repeal laws.)

        Democrats are weenies, yes, on war against enemies and criminals. They are war hawks against We the People’s Liberty.

        • Yeah, but it would also give them another source of income to continue expansion and intrusion into ordinary people’s lives.

          Just repeal the other one and leave it at that.

          Legalize means to regulate it which means the home grower will still land in jail for growing without a license or paying taxes or who knows what else the government can use as an excuse.

          It won’t decrease the expense sheet of government, merely redirect to “new” departments as we get a horde of regulators overseeing it; perhaps even cost more in the long run.

          • You make some good points, Steph. I question whether it is a conservative position to try to increase revenue streams, and your point on regulation – what kind of horror pictures will pot manufacturers be required to put on their packages, like the tobacco people? I ha ven’t seen yet pictures of amputees due to sugar-related diseases on sugar products, but…

          • I couldn’t reply to yours, bob, so I stuck it under mine. I was thinking about revenue agents pursuing moonshiners but I like your thoughts, too.

            Marijuana would be more like the alcoholic beverages industry. Regulated to the hilt. What revenue it produced via taxation would be eaten up by the regulatory bodies created, the manpower added, and likely more than what it costs now.

            When TN raised taxes on tobacco products, then governor Bredesen’s regulators threatened searches at the borders of neighboring states. Imagine the money and manpower that would take. Our federal government isn’t any more intelligent.

            When you have towns and cities fining little kids for operating lemonade stands without a license, you know government at all levels has gone lunatic.

          • The bill proposed by Paul-Frank would only repeal the federal law that makes pot possession a federal crime. The steps required before the federal government could tax pot are many. A state would have to legalize it and the feds would have to pass a federal sales tax.

            Given the federal government’s huge deficits, having an income source long ago ceased to be necessary for them to intrude more into our lives. They just borrow money or print money.

            Not seeing a real connection between ending pot poss as a federal crime and the massive problem we have with the government as oppressive. In fact, it gets the feds out of the issue in terms of putting people in jail! That is a good step!

            I guess we could make everything a crime though and then they couldn’t tax anything and we would all be in prison! smile

          • Bottom Line: making activity illegal and putting people in jail is the most “intrusive” act of government (except for capital punishment). Obama and the Dems have essentially made oil drilling in new areas illegal for 30+ years. Wouldn’t it be better if more oil drilling occurred even if its taxed? Of course. I wish I made more money…and was able to pay more taxes. While at the same time working to shrink government so they wouldn’t need so much revenue. I favor NOT increasing the debt ceiling and thus imposing a balanced budget now.

          • Have you read the bill? You can’t say that with any certainty unless you have. if you have, then I’ll take you word for it.

            Until then, I’ll hang on to my skepticism because of the stunts that have been pulled in the past, giving us 1000-2000+ pages in one bill that said a whole lot more than what the people were told.

          • The most likely outcome would be new departments and agencies requiring new funding, while the existing departments and agenies that deal with pot would go on as before with some minor ‘re-missioning’, probably continuing to grow.

            I’d say the thing to do is chop 90% from the top, ending departments and agencies that have no foundation in the constitution and eliminate all the laws and regulations covered by those dept/agencies. Then we can look at what, if any needs to be added back in, this time with much shorter leashes.

  2. I hate to be a Frank supporter on anything but this war was lost from the beginning and has only cost liberty while enriching drug lords.

    Let the states decide. For myself that includes all federal drug laws but this is a start.

    • Legalizing, or outlawing, requires, or opens the door for, action on the part of government and abdication of personal responsibility.

      Just as with alcohol, tobacco, and other commodities against which government has initiated a war, if they can’t beat it one way, they’ll do it through taxes. Taxes are the vehicle by which government expands its reach into every facet of one’s life. I’d just as soon not give the government any more power considering I’d like to shrink what they have now.

      • This is one product that I wouldn’t mind the government taxing to death. I’m not an advocate of pot use, I just don’t think prohibition has been an effective way to curtail it. Treating it the way we treat alcohol now would at least reduce the criminal activity associated with it.

  3. oh joy. legal stoners with the munchies. I’d like to see what would happen to Michelle’s food plate under those circumstances.

    “No, no boys and girls! You must eat Nutritious broccoli and hummus after smoking a joint. Not those bad-for-you-foods and snacks. Now Johnnie, stop eating those chili-cheese fries. Have some tofu dogs instead.”

  4. As a former user I cannot agree with this law. I’m all for states’ rights and getting the feds out of our lives but legalizing pot will only add to our current problems with DUI’s, illnesses related to smoking, societal breakdown, I could go on. As far as a source of revenue, yeah. I don’t really want state and federal governments to have anymore of the taxpayers’ money to waste on policies and programs we don’t want, need, and are in fact trying to get rid of, such as Obamacareâ„¢. Spending is the problem, not revenue.

    Marijuana affects your attention span as well. We need more people paying attention to what is going on in government, not less. Andy Warhol may have been talking about acid when he said “Tune in, turn on, drop out” but it applies to pot as well. All I was concerned about back in the day was scoring my next bag, not things like “What the hell has that {redacted} congressman of mine done now and how can I stop him??”

    Again, as much as I’d like to see states regain their 10th amendment rights, I would rather see the feds back off from opposing things like the AZ and GA illegal immigration laws, which only seek to re-enforce the federal law, than see this bill become law.

    • Jim: As long as we’re confessing, I attended a lecture in Chicago in 1967 by the author of the phrase “Tune in, turn on, drop out.” It was Dr. Timothy Leary. Andy did some weird stuff, too though! I pretty much agree with what you say, about the attention span and the loooooong-term effects, and I am just so happy to be posting here at RedState…. 🙂

    • Jim, the real question is: Did the prohibition against marijuana keep you from using it? Was it still readily available to you? Was it just a matter of dealing with less reputable people and paying more to get a supply? Would you have worried so much about scoring your supply if you knew you could stop at the store on the corner to buy it?

      If the prohibition had any real effect on supply or demand, I’d be for continuing it. But from what I can see, the only effect it has is to drive the product to criminal elements as suppliers rather than the corner liquor store. There’s not much difference in availability.

      I know it’s evil stuff that does significant damage to users when abused, but so is alcohol. Prohibitions do little to curb demand and only seem to bring revenue to the criminal element and somehow make the product more desirable.

  5. One of the main issues which I’ve noticed over the years is depending on the user’s age at the time they first started smoking Cannabis, is the mental age they seem to stop maturing.

    It’s as if they’ve become frozen in time. I’ve come to the conclusion usage of any substance, legal or otherwise, is a form of avoidance or escape.

    Keeping the population pacified is a way to control certain outcomes. That is until the teat is taken away.

    • Oh, that reminds me of something someone once said about the former USSR. A loaf of bread could cost half a day’s wages but Vodka was cheap. A lot of people stayed drunk to forget how miserable they were.

      I don’t know if that was true or not but I suppose our crazy government could try to do the same the Mary Jane.

    • I think you’re right about that Pamela. That pretty well describes the people I know who have been consistent users over the years.

      If you were a Democrat, I’d suggest you apply for a grant to study the matter and produce a report that will be promptly ignored.

  1. Brian: Is it pure alignment of the stars, or result of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, that on the same day I posted a piece on the ‘opiate of the masses’ you posted on ‘reefer madness’?
    🙂

    • I don’t but purely from a federalist point of view. I think it should be within states’ rights and not that of the federal government. I’d rather see repeal of the federalized drug laws rather than adding to them.

      Besides, it didn’t prove them very tough, did it? Only more expensive than they were before.

      • The passage of this law repeals major portions of federal law making possession of marijuana a federal crime. (You have to a pass a law to repeal laws.)

        Democrats are weenies, yes, on war against enemies and criminals. They are war hawks against We the People’s Liberty.

        • Yeah, but it would also give them another source of income to continue expansion and intrusion into ordinary people’s lives.

          Just repeal the other one and leave it at that.

          Legalize means to regulate it which means the home grower will still land in jail for growing without a license or paying taxes or who knows what else the government can use as an excuse.

          It won’t decrease the expense sheet of government, merely redirect to “new” departments as we get a horde of regulators overseeing it; perhaps even cost more in the long run.

          • You make some good points, Steph. I question whether it is a conservative position to try to increase revenue streams, and your point on regulation – what kind of horror pictures will pot manufacturers be required to put on their packages, like the tobacco people? I ha ven’t seen yet pictures of amputees due to sugar-related diseases on sugar products, but…

          • I couldn’t reply to yours, bob, so I stuck it under mine. I was thinking about revenue agents pursuing moonshiners but I like your thoughts, too.

            Marijuana would be more like the alcoholic beverages industry. Regulated to the hilt. What revenue it produced via taxation would be eaten up by the regulatory bodies created, the manpower added, and likely more than what it costs now.

            When TN raised taxes on tobacco products, then governor Bredesen’s regulators threatened searches at the borders of neighboring states. Imagine the money and manpower that would take. Our federal government isn’t any more intelligent.

            When you have towns and cities fining little kids for operating lemonade stands without a license, you know government at all levels has gone lunatic.

          • The bill proposed by Paul-Frank would only repeal the federal law that makes pot possession a federal crime. The steps required before the federal government could tax pot are many. A state would have to legalize it and the feds would have to pass a federal sales tax.

            Given the federal government’s huge deficits, having an income source long ago ceased to be necessary for them to intrude more into our lives. They just borrow money or print money.

            Not seeing a real connection between ending pot poss as a federal crime and the massive problem we have with the government as oppressive. In fact, it gets the feds out of the issue in terms of putting people in jail! That is a good step!

            I guess we could make everything a crime though and then they couldn’t tax anything and we would all be in prison! smile

          • Bottom Line: making activity illegal and putting people in jail is the most “intrusive” act of government (except for capital punishment). Obama and the Dems have essentially made oil drilling in new areas illegal for 30+ years. Wouldn’t it be better if more oil drilling occurred even if its taxed? Of course. I wish I made more money…and was able to pay more taxes. While at the same time working to shrink government so they wouldn’t need so much revenue. I favor NOT increasing the debt ceiling and thus imposing a balanced budget now.

          • Have you read the bill? You can’t say that with any certainty unless you have. if you have, then I’ll take you word for it.

            Until then, I’ll hang on to my skepticism because of the stunts that have been pulled in the past, giving us 1000-2000+ pages in one bill that said a whole lot more than what the people were told.

          • The most likely outcome would be new departments and agencies requiring new funding, while the existing departments and agenies that deal with pot would go on as before with some minor ‘re-missioning’, probably continuing to grow.

            I’d say the thing to do is chop 90% from the top, ending departments and agencies that have no foundation in the constitution and eliminate all the laws and regulations covered by those dept/agencies. Then we can look at what, if any needs to be added back in, this time with much shorter leashes.

  2. I hate to be a Frank supporter on anything but this war was lost from the beginning and has only cost liberty while enriching drug lords.

    Let the states decide. For myself that includes all federal drug laws but this is a start.

    • Legalizing, or outlawing, requires, or opens the door for, action on the part of government and abdication of personal responsibility.

      Just as with alcohol, tobacco, and other commodities against which government has initiated a war, if they can’t beat it one way, they’ll do it through taxes. Taxes are the vehicle by which government expands its reach into every facet of one’s life. I’d just as soon not give the government any more power considering I’d like to shrink what they have now.

      • This is one product that I wouldn’t mind the government taxing to death. I’m not an advocate of pot use, I just don’t think prohibition has been an effective way to curtail it. Treating it the way we treat alcohol now would at least reduce the criminal activity associated with it.

  3. oh joy. legal stoners with the munchies. I’d like to see what would happen to Michelle’s food plate under those circumstances.

    “No, no boys and girls! You must eat Nutritious broccoli and hummus after smoking a joint. Not those bad-for-you-foods and snacks. Now Johnnie, stop eating those chili-cheese fries. Have some tofu dogs instead.”

  4. As a former user I cannot agree with this law. I’m all for states’ rights and getting the feds out of our lives but legalizing pot will only add to our current problems with DUI’s, illnesses related to smoking, societal breakdown, I could go on. As far as a source of revenue, yeah. I don’t really want state and federal governments to have anymore of the taxpayers’ money to waste on policies and programs we don’t want, need, and are in fact trying to get rid of, such as Obamacareâ„¢. Spending is the problem, not revenue.

    Marijuana affects your attention span as well. We need more people paying attention to what is going on in government, not less. Andy Warhol may have been talking about acid when he said “Tune in, turn on, drop out” but it applies to pot as well. All I was concerned about back in the day was scoring my next bag, not things like “What the hell has that {redacted} congressman of mine done now and how can I stop him??”

    Again, as much as I’d like to see states regain their 10th amendment rights, I would rather see the feds back off from opposing things like the AZ and GA illegal immigration laws, which only seek to re-enforce the federal law, than see this bill become law.

    • Jim: As long as we’re confessing, I attended a lecture in Chicago in 1967 by the author of the phrase “Tune in, turn on, drop out.” It was Dr. Timothy Leary. Andy did some weird stuff, too though! I pretty much agree with what you say, about the attention span and the loooooong-term effects, and I am just so happy to be posting here at RedState…. 🙂

    • Jim, the real question is: Did the prohibition against marijuana keep you from using it? Was it still readily available to you? Was it just a matter of dealing with less reputable people and paying more to get a supply? Would you have worried so much about scoring your supply if you knew you could stop at the store on the corner to buy it?

      If the prohibition had any real effect on supply or demand, I’d be for continuing it. But from what I can see, the only effect it has is to drive the product to criminal elements as suppliers rather than the corner liquor store. There’s not much difference in availability.

      I know it’s evil stuff that does significant damage to users when abused, but so is alcohol. Prohibitions do little to curb demand and only seem to bring revenue to the criminal element and somehow make the product more desirable.

  5. One of the main issues which I’ve noticed over the years is depending on the user’s age at the time they first started smoking Cannabis, is the mental age they seem to stop maturing.

    It’s as if they’ve become frozen in time. I’ve come to the conclusion usage of any substance, legal or otherwise, is a form of avoidance or escape.

    Keeping the population pacified is a way to control certain outcomes. That is until the teat is taken away.

    • Oh, that reminds me of something someone once said about the former USSR. A loaf of bread could cost half a day’s wages but Vodka was cheap. A lot of people stayed drunk to forget how miserable they were.

      I don’t know if that was true or not but I suppose our crazy government could try to do the same the Mary Jane.

    • I think you’re right about that Pamela. That pretty well describes the people I know who have been consistent users over the years.

      If you were a Democrat, I’d suggest you apply for a grant to study the matter and produce a report that will be promptly ignored.

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