There is an important difference between legalization and decriminalization; decriminalization means that a state repealed or amended its laws and removed any monetary penalties and jail sentences for marijuana possession. Decriminalization decreases the potential consequences of being caught in possession of small quantities to a violation, instead of being charged of criminal offense that would go onto someone’s record.
However, selling or trafficking marijuana would still get you arrested as you would not be following state laws on license and taxation.
What are the benefits of marijuana decriminalization?
- Saving money
Marijuana decriminalization would alleviate a heavy burden on taxpayers. According to a 2013 report performed by ACLU United States is spending around $3.6 billion a year to enforce cannabis laws. For its study, the ACLU examined FBI data and revealed that between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million marijuana related arrests in the U.S. This means one person has been arrested every 37 seconds and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent in the criminal justice system.
A study done nearly 10 years ago, before cannabis decriminalization was even taken into consideration, found that decriminalizing illicit drugs would save taxpayers around $20 billion per year and reduce the prison population by more than 50 percent. In the United States the average prisoner costs more than $31,000 per taxpayer, per year.
2. Medical Benefits
Decriminalization also brings various potential medical benefits. According to an article published in The Lancet has alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than marijuana. According to their analysis, alcohol and tobacco have been rated as more dangerous than cannabis, LSD and ecstasy. Tobacco causes 40 percent of all hospital illnesses, while alcohol is the cause for more than 50 percent of all visits to hospital emergency rooms.
Research has shown that it may be able to help with other diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, seizure disorders, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, cancer growth, abnormal heart rhythms, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, incontinence, bacterial infections, asthma, osteoporosis, intense itching, Tourette’s syndrome and sleep apnea.
In addition doctors also may prescribe medical marijuana to treat:
- Muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis
- Nausea and the loss of appetite from chemotherapy
- Weight loss caused by chronic illness, like HIV, or nerve pain
- Crohn’s disease
Senator Elizabeth Warren, has expressed her support for medical marijuana legalization during a radio interview with Boston’s WTKK-FM: “You know, I held my father’s hand while he died of cancer, and it’s really painful when you do something like that up close and personal. … And it puts me in a position of saying, if there’s something a physician can prescribe that can help someone who’s suffering, I’m in favor of that”
In the United States lawmakers from 23 states are considering promoting a legislation that would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana while in 16 states medical marijuana programs have been established. In addition West Virginia has become this year the 30th state to legalize medical marijuana.
More and more politicians endorse decriminalization or legalization of marijuana to varying degrees and voice their incremental support.
Barack Obama has admitted that “When I was a kid I inhaled frequently. That was the point.”
Gavin Newsom, lieutenant governor of California and former mayor of San Francisco has told New York Times that “These [recreational marijuana users] are incredibly upstanding citizens: leaders in our community, and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it. … These laws just don’t make sense anymore. It’s time for politicians to come out of the closet on this.”
Rep. Barney Frank former Representative for Massachusetts’s 4th District for more than three decades, has never been afraid to back marijuana reform. He considers that “Whether you want to do these things or not ought to be your own choice.”
Senator Bernie Sanders has expressed his support of cannabis reform. He stated: “In my view, the time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana.”
It’s no secret that a large number of celebrities have expressed their views on cannabis. From Rihanna to Whoopi Goldberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger, there are numerous stars that are doing their part to let the world know the benefits of marijuana.
Whoopi Goldberg has funded and also lend her name to a new line of medical marijuana infused products designed specifically for women. The company is a joint partnership with the edibles maker Maya Elisabeth and is named Whoopi & Maya.
Whoopi told The Daily Best that “I’m really proud of our work in the cannabis industry, and I really feel like we’re making a difference in people’s lives,” Goldberg
Actor and marijuana advocate Woody Harrelson has opened one of Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensaries.
Rihanna is another star that has launched her own marijuana products with the line called “MaRihanna.”
Kirsten Dunst confessed she likes smoking marijuana. Her own words are “America’s view on weed is ridiculous” and the world would be a better place if “everyone smoked weed.” While according to Arnold Schwarzenegger “That is not a drug, it’s a leaf.”
The famous actress Jennifer Aniston has also recognized she enjoys smoking marijuana and sees ‘nothing wrong’ in it. ‘I enjoy it once in a while,’ she told Rolling Stone magazine.
3. Who supports it?
Support for legalization has risen among all age groups. Three in four Millennials (18- to 35-year-olds) show their strongest support, while six in ten American Baby Boomers (52- to 70-year-olds) support legalization. Seniors remain the one age group for whom a majority still think marijuana use should be against the law.
Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont and former democratic presidential candidate has tried to legalize cannabis. He has introduced a legislation in 2015 that would have ended the federal prohibition of marijuana. “In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco.” he said. You may check his speech here. Unfortunately for Sanders, his bill did not receive enough support.
Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR 1227)
Similar to the legislation introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders, a new bill has been introduced by a New Jersey Democrat, Senator Cory Booker. Booker’s bill seeks to remove it from the group of drugs included in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, where marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD.
The Marijuana Justice Act would do the following:
- Remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, ending federal prohibition of marijuana
- Withhold federal money for state law enforcement and prison construction if from states that disproportionately arrests and/or incarcerates minorities
- would allow individuals to sue the state over bias in marijuana enforcement
- Prevent deportations of individuals for marijuana offenses
- Provide for a process of expungement for marijuana offenses at federal level
- allow people serving time for marijuana-related offenses to be resentenced
- It would create “a community reinvestment fund” of $500 million that would go toward job training, reentry services, and community centers, among other programs.
Here you can find Booker’s Facebook Live session.
“Not only is it imperative we end our failed experiment of marijuana prohibition, we must also ensure justice for those who suffered most under these draconian policies,” the NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said.
The Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group whose honorary board includes former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and former Secretary of State George Shultz supports Booker’s legislation. The late CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite is also one of the honorary board members.
“The question is no longer ‘should we legalize marijuana?’ it is ‘how do we legalize marijuana?’ We must do so in a way that recognizes that the people who suffered most under prohibition are the same people who should benefit most under legalization,” said Queen Adesuyi, policy associate at the Drug Policy Alliance.
Booker’s legalization bill reflects the America’s changing views on cannabis. A CBS News poll from April revealed that 61% of Americans believe marijuana should be legal, while 71% of respondents consider that the federal government shouldn’t intervene with states that have legalized it on their own. Furthermore an astonishing 88% support marijuana’s medical use.
Who are the co-sponsors of the bill?
The bill, also known under the name of Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2017, has been introduced at the end of March by Rep. Carlos Curbelo. It is meant to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 so companies would be able to deduct any expenditures that have been mate in relation to cannabis sales that are in compliance with state law.
Tulsi Gabbard on Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition
There’s limited but overwhelming evidence that shows that marijuana is effective in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain, and addiction as stated by female veteran Tulsi Gabbard.
Lots of members from our veteran community haven’t hesitated to share their stories of the struggles they had with depression and opioid addiction, Former Hawaii National major Tulsi Gabbard further added that they have remained vocal about the need for the VA to allow doctors discuss medical marijuana with their patients. In Congress, a committed Tulsi Gabbard is joining hands with a bipartisan group with members on both sides of the aisle to pass the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR 1227).
Representative Tulsi Gabbard said, If we succeed at removing marijuana from the Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, we can get rid of those things that hinder small businesses so they can have access to bank loans that expand their potential. Tulsi Gabbard further said, medical researchers who are currently limited by rigid federal regulations can be free to explore other treatment options, and patients can get the best prescription from their doctors.
Well known for her strong reformist steps, Tulsi Gabbard justified – this bill is critically set to revamp our criminal justice system. Many individuals and families have benefitted from the much publicized “War on Drugs,” which has favored the private prison industry but haven’t helped our communities. We have cases of non-violent offenders being detained for several years, prisons become congested, and our courts have had to deal with a backlog of non-violent cases of drug offenses.
When we talk of strong female visionaries, Tulsi Gabbard’s name comes first. In relation of above issue, the racial disparity that comes into play in the arrest of marijuana-related offenders, despite the existence of similar usage habits across demographics, only further points to the systematic inequality that needs to be addressed. Gone are the days when the use of marijuana was criminalized; it’s ludicrous to place marijuana in the same class as methamphetamines or heroin.
Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, the use of marijuana should be handled in a similar way to that of tobacco or alcohol. Having the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act” in place means we can correct years of errors and concentrate on solutions. We can work for healthcare advocates veteran instead of lobbyists who keep pushing harmful and addictive painkillers. Tulsi reinstated “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition” represents the best direction for our criminal justice and healthcare systems going forward.
Mark Sanford, the Republican representative from South Carolina, is co-sponsoring the legislation. He explains:
“The principle here is simple, if a state makes something legal…it ought to be treated on par and equally with other legal businesses in the state….In just the last year alone, 28 states passed laws allowing for the legal use of medical marijuana, but because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, small businesses in the states that sell marijuana legally are not allowed to deduct business expenses.”
Here are the other co-sponsors for this bill:
- Blumenauer, Earl [D-OR-3]
- Polis, Jared [D-CO-2]
- DeGette, Diana [D-CO-1]
- DeFazio, Peter A. [D-OR-4]
- Perlmutter, Ed [D-CO-7]
- Heck, Denny [D-WA-10]
- Schrader, Kurt [D-OR-5]
- Smith, Adam [D-WA-9]
- Courtney, Joe [D-CT-2]
- Gabbard, Tulsi [D-HI-2]
- O’Rourke, Beto [D-TX-16]
- Norton, Eleanor Holmes [D-DC-At Large]
- Correa, J. Luis [D-CA-46]
- Ryan, Tim [D-OH-13]
- Titus, Dina [D-NV-1]
- Kihuen, Ruben J. [D-NV-4]
- McClintock, Tom [R-CA-4]
- Joyce, David P. [R-OH-14]
- Coffman, Mike [R-CO-6]
- Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20]
- Cohen, Steve [D-TN-9]
- DelBene, Suzan K. [D-WA-1]
- Reed, Tom [R-NY-23]
- Rosen, Jacky [D-NV-3]
- Rohrabacher, Dana [R-CA-48]
- Khanna, Ro [D-CA-17]
- Costello, Ryan A. [R-PA-6]
- Lewis, Jason [R-MN-2]
- Emmer, Tom [R-MN-6]
- Sanford, Mark [R-SC-1]
- Gaetz, Matt [R-FL-1]
- McCollum, Betty [D-MN-4]
- Lee, Barbara [D-CA-13]
- Hunter, Duncan D. [R-CA-50]
- McNerney, Jerry [D-CA-9]
- Davis, Rodney [R-IL-13]
- Paulsen, Erik [R-MN-3]
See Tulsi’s approach and remarks on various other issues:
- Tulsi’s view on Ending the CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels and liberal media.
- Tulsi Gabbard Town Hall in Hilo.
- Reaction of Tulsi Gabbard on the statement of Donna Brazile
- Tulsi Gabbard’s view on overhauling DNC
- Tulsi’s approach to various remarks surrounding the Syrian attack.
- Tulsi Gabbard on Fake Nuclear Missile alert
- “The Hill” talks on Tulsi Gabbard
- Vogue on Democrat Tulsi Gabbard
Become a citizen co-sponsor now:
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