The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: Artur Davis Rebuts

Artur Davis: Rebuttal #2

[The RP’s Provocation; Jason Atkinson’s Rebuttal #1; The RP’s First Defense: Jason Atkinson’s First Response]

The arguments for legalizing marijuana turn on the idea that the risks are limited, or on a libertarian notion that individuals should have the license to weigh the risk for themselves.
I’ve yet to hear a case that an explosion of social marijuana use will improve public health, strengthen families or communities, or add to the public good in any measurable way. I’m dubious about ending a whole class of criminal laws with nothing positive to show for it.
There is certainly room to evaluate the defects in how marijuana laws are enforced; many judges and state level defense lawyers are convinced that minorities are more likely to face felony charges for marijuana related crimes, and that the system is replete with inconsistencies in how marijuana offenders are treated, for reasons rooted in class, race, geography, etc. That conversation ought to happen, but there is ample room to reform the disparities without throwing up our hands altogether.

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The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: Artur Davis Rebuts

The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: Jason Atkinson Responds

Jason Atkinson’s First Response

[The RP’s Provocation; Jason Atkinson’s Rebuttal #1; The RP’s First Defense]

Alright, pour me a white russian and level with me  Dude or your Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino for whomever is not into the whole brevity thing.

The issue is should citizens smoke pot?  The answer is no.  It’s bad for you.  So are alcohol, potato chips and too much tv, but what we are talking about is a drug for pain relief.  Should pain drugs be made?  Yes, and I’m open to the herb being part of that mix if treated like a drug.

The criminal element will not evaporate because it’s legal.  Perfectly healthy people will not stop trying to get it because its legal.

Many states are trying to stop kids from using Meth.  One of the main ingredients of Meth is cold medication.  Making that medication hard to get, drastically put a dent into meth production, increasing the street cost, and frankly making it too expensive to be a recreational drug.

On the west coast, the cartels are now making and transporting Meth (see my early post).  Crime is crime.  If it’s legal for the hurting, the healthy will be jones’n for it.

As a public leader can I support a policy that I know will hurt people?  That’s a big question.  

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The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: Jason Atkinson Responds

The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: The RP Defends

The RP‘s First Defense

[The RP’s Provocation; Jason Atkinson’s Rebuttal #1]

Jason Atkinson makes a powerful indictment of legalized medicinal marijuana from his unique vantage point as a legislator in a state (Oregon) that has gone this route.

I couldn’t agree more.  As I argued in my initial post, legalizing medical marijuana is a half-measure that while well-intention creates some enormous complications for law enforcement and extraordinary challenges for physicians.  That’s why in another state that has legalized medicinal marijuana, the California Medical Association has urged its legislature to move to full legalization.

This illustrates one of the key lessons I’ve learned from the sausage-making factory that is lawmaking.  The middle-of-the-road approach that might test best in the polls can often have unintended consequences that create a situation that is worse than the original status quo.  Jason vividly illustrates the consequences that Albert Camus spoke of when he said, “good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.

Where I disagree with Jason is in his conclusion that the problems associated with medicinal marijuana suggest that full legalization would fail as well.  Indeed, the horrible developments Jason outlines — “patients” gaming the system; medical cards being counterfeited; local law enforcement overwhelmed with violations; drug cartels moving in to handle the illegal traffic — all would be mitigated by full legalization.

If we implement a fully-legal, strictly-regulated domestic marijuana industry, we eliminate all of the crimes and frauds associated with trying to get around the proofs of medical need.  No system will be perfect, and we will never be able to eliminate illegal activity.  But the folks who fear legalization the most are the mobs and cartels who are getting rich as long as the drug remains legal.  That’s the most important lesson the country learned in the Prohibition Era.

Jason does raise one concern that gnaws at me — the notion that marijuana is a gateway drug, a slippery slope to the use of harder drugs which I strongly agree must remain illegal.  I’ve spoken to addicts too, and some suggest that the transition from pot to cocaine was made smoother by the fact that both were illegal — if I can handle one illegal drug, I can handle all.  Under that reasoning, if we legalize cannabis, the connection is eliminated.

I concede I could be wrong about the gateway issue, and I would love to see some scientific evidence on the issue.  But regardless, I still believe the equities fall in favor of legalizing the drug.

The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: Jason Atkinson Rebuts

Jason Atkinson: Rebuttal #1

[Read The RP’s Provocation]

Pot is already legal, or at least hard to enforce beyond medical cardholders, in Oregon.  I used to joke in my state camouflaged PVC pipe was sold in local hardware stores.  (For those of you who don’t watch “Moonshiners” camo PVC is harder to see from the air.)  Sadly though, when the voter’s legalized marijuana has almost become more than jokes.

Massive greenhouses have popped up across the landscape like a teenagers first outbreak of acne.   What is not seen everyday is the hundreds of plants being grown with a single marijuana medical card or the thousands of plants being grown illegally by the cartels in the forests.

I understand the arguments from pain-management and from the economics of cutting the profit motive out, however those positions are too narrow for the reality of the modern herb industry:

  • Marijuana is a gateway drug.  Ask anyone in recovery.
  • People on drugs, legal or illegal, should not be driving.  From the highway to a forklift:  Society pays the price.
  • Medical cards are easier to get than fake ids. The ease of getting medical cards is the biggest problem and the hardest to get under control.
  • People with grow cards can grow anywhere.
  • Mexican drug cartels are using the illegal system to grow and distribute.  (Do you think the cartel’s care about your Grandma’s glaucoma?  Me neither.)

My local Sherriff does not have jurisdiction, or the manpower to even cruse the legal grow sites, let alone the illegal ones seen from air.  Moreover, local law enforcement has no idea when they check on a complaint if they are walking into drug-induced hostility.   DEA is trying to crack down, however every instance of a pot bust is with someone who has a card.  Citizens call me daily complaining about the rental house in their neighborhood being used as a grow site and distribution.

Every one of these issues we’ve tried to change the law, but to not avail.  The pot lobby is strong, well funded, and makes an emotional case for chronic pain.  If it were only limited to chronic pain, needing a doctors prescription and manufactured like the drug that it is.

Look man, the Dude Abided- without a card.  Lenny Kravitz confessed to Piers Morgan last month he walked around in “wall of fuzz” before he took action to get off the stuff. True the cat is out of the bag.  Governments on the left coast need to step in.

However, I am hard pressed to call it a moral choice when the societal consequences are so overwhelming.  This debate is akin to state’s getting into, then addicted to gambling.  When morality comes crashing in that gambling hurts the poor, government’s answer is “gambling addiction help awareness TV commercials” paid for by lottery revenues.

The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: The RP Provokes

Last week, we began a new tradition at The Recovering Politician: a great virtual debate among our recovering politicians; with provocations, rebuttals, responses, and defenses.  This week, we ramped up the controversy level by tackling a highly explosive topic: legalizing marijuana.  The RP starts off with his provocative article arguing the moral case for legalized cannabis.  Tune in every half hour to read what other RPs have to say.  

SPOILER ALERT: There will be fireworks.

This week, the contributing RPs take on The RP’s recent controversial call for legalizing marijuana in The Huffington Post. (As well as a Kentucky-centric version dedicated to Gatewood Galbraith, published in the Lexington Herald-Leader).

The RP’s Provocation:

While a recent Gallup poll revealed that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, and Ron Paul — a  proponent — has run well in the early GOP presidential primaries, most mainstream politicians still refuse to touch the subject, and many journalists continue to refer to legalization as a “radical” position.

It’s no wonder.  The loudest voices for reform usually come from the political margins: the “hippie” Far Left and the libertarian Far Right.  And while emanating from different directions, the two extremes share a similar credo: An out-of-control government has no business telling me what I can ingest.

A politically-influential cross-section of Americans, however, disagree.  Many associate pot advocacy with the “anything goes” counter-culture of the 1970s that they blame for the decline of personal responsibility. Others worry that the logical extension of the philosophy could lead to legalizing “harder” drugs, prostitution, even polygamy.  All of them — liberals, moderates, and conservatives — believe that there must be some moral standards established to guide public policy.

I’m part of that moral majority.  But unlike Jerry Falwell’s version, my values system is based on the multi-religious mandate to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  I’ve even written a book, The Compassionate Community, which applies Bible lessons and other religions’ texts to advocate for progressive policies that promote the common good.

And I’ve recently concluded that these same enduring moral values compel me to support legalizing marijuana.

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The RPs Debate Legalizing Marijuana: The RP Provokes

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