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100 Years Of Prohibition.

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US MA: 100 Years Of Marijuana Prohibition

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URL: http://www.mapinc.or...1/n276/a06.html

Newshawk: Kirk

Votes: 1

Pubdate: Fri, 29 Apr 2011

Source: Milford Daily News, The (MA)

Copyright: 2011 The Milford Daily News

Contact:male2('milforddailynews','cnc.com'); milforddailynews@cnc.com

Website: http://www.milforddailynews.com

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2990

Author: Richard Evans

Note: Richard M. Evans is a Northampton lawyer and the author of

H1371, the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act. He blogs at www.cantaxreg.com.

Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/decrim.htm (Decrim/Legalization)






One hundred years ago today, Massachusetts Governor Eugene Foss signed into law Chapter 372 of the Acts of 1911, "An act relative to the issuance of search warrants for hypnotic drugs and the arrest of those present." Since then, marijuana has been illegal in Massachusetts, although the voters reduced possession of a small amount to a civil infraction in 2008. Remarkably, the 1911 law was the first state prohibition of marijuana in the United States.


Despite a century of ever-zealous enforcement and thunderous propaganda at taxpayer expense, marijuana inextricably permeates our culture. Its cultivation, commerce and use have proven ineradicable. We have tried mightily and we have failed to extirpate it. If anyone, anywhere, believes that spending more money on marijuana enforcement will drive out pot, let that person come forward and tell us plainly what it will take to make that happen, how much it will cost, and where the money will come from.


The futility of enforcement, however, is not the urgent reason to legalize it. The reason is that prohibition has become a destructive force in our society.


Most perniciously, marijuana prohibition provides the tools and the excuses for the oppression of minorities. No historian denies that the early drug laws were conceived for that purpose, and today's grotesquely disproportionate incarceration rate of African-Americans proves that the drug laws have shamefully accomplished that purpose.


Prohibition divides us. Getting caught with pot, or the fear of getting caught, divides parents and teens, employers and employees, friends, neighbors, colleagues, doctors and patients, and citizens and the police. That divisiveness weakens us as we face colossal challenges like a sick economy, the insolvency of states and municipalities, climate change and our addiction to imported oil. As long as cannabis remains illegal, it cannot be a part of the solution to those colossal challenges.


Take the economy. Montana, a state with a population one-sixth of ours, has seen medical marijuana alone create 1,400 new jobs. Extrapolate for Massachusetts. Legalization - meaning a regulated and taxed market for medical and non-medical consumers - will create new jobs and business opportunities in agriculture, horticulture, equipment manufacture and supply, construction, real estate, finance, and retail, once we no longer have to be afraid.


Consider the insolvency of states and municipalities. Last year, the California Board of Equalization estimated that taxing the commercial cannabis industry, at a rate of $50 per ounce, would raise between $990 million and $1.4 billion. Proportionally, that's around $200 million in new revenue for the Bay State.


To overcome our addiction to oil, can we ignore the amazing promise and versatility of hemp as a clean, renewable energy source, and as the raw material for thousands of products, reducing deforestation while replacing chemical-intensive cotton and environmentally destructive petroleum?


In 1930, 10 years into national Prohibition, Massachusetts voters legalized alcohol, ceding to the feds the cost of liquor enforcement. History proved them prescient, as with repeal in 1933, bootleggers quit or went legit, violent crime plummeted, and a significant new source of revenue presented itself to the legislature.


Our immediate challenge is not to legalize cannabis, but to legalize serious talk about it, without smirks and snickers. How legalization can best protect public health and safety, and discourage abuse, and how to tax the substance, are issues not just for politicians, but for everyone. Legalization is no longer for stoners; it's for taxpayers, entrepreneurs and grandparents, horrified at the likely state of the planet on which their grandchildren will grow up.


Let the debate begin now, lest another hundred years go by.

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom

Edited by greenbuddha
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