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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v16/n650/a11.html
Newshawk: Jim
Votes: 0
Pubdate: Wed, 19 Oct 2016
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2016 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/234
Note: This is second part of editorial


There are several ways to measure the failure of the War on Drugs, starting with its role in sending a grossly disproportionate number of African-Americans to prison.

Not far down the list is how the initiative affected marijuana supply and demand.  Despite hundreds of billions of dollars in expenditures and decades of effort on drug eradication, millions of Americans continue to use the drug.

Look it up.  The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most recent year available, shows that 22.2 million Americans had used the drug within the past month when they were surveyed.  Compared to 2002, marijuana use was up among all age groups survey save for one: 12- to 17-year-olds.  Among the U.S.  population of 18- to 25-year-olds, 22 percent were users.

It’s time to try something else, and that’s decriminalizing recreational use of the drug.

Regulating the growth and distribution of marijuana will give responsible adults a legal way to obtain the drug, will yield tax revenue and will allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes.

It’s also led to the creation of thousands of jobs in states where it’s been adopted, and it would no doubt do the same here.

With the benefits come some concerns, including how legalizing the drug might make it more available to children and how it might affect public safety, particularly on roads.

On the issue of availability to minors, a positive sign comes from Colorado, where the largest study of youth in the state showed that teen use had declined since the state legalized it in 2013.  As to the concern about traffic fatalities, studies have shown an increase in the number of drivers involved in fatal accidents in Colorado and Washington who had marijuana in their systems, but those studies did not indicate whether the drivers were at fault or were impaired.

Other issues raised by opponents can and should be examined by the Legislature should the ballot measure pass.  Among them, the state should follow Colorado’s lead and pass legislation banning products sold in the form of people, animals or fruit, which children could mistake for candy.

Nevada is in good position to legalize, as it can craft responsible policy modeled on that of other states that have dealt with unintended consequences of decriminalizing the drug.  We also know a thing or two about regulation, having set standards for oversight of the gaming industry.

Finally, the state has already taken steps toward legalization without the sky falling.  In 2000, lawmakers downgraded possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor, and the state successfully launched a medical marijuana industry in recent years.

Don’t misunderstand us: legalization won’t be all silver lining and no cloud.  It won’t eliminate the black market for the drug, and it will require a massive expansion of the state’s marijuana regulation system.

But it will reduce demand for illegal sellers’ products, helping take the drug out of the alley and into regulated and taxed shops.

That’s a step in the right direction – and a step away from the disastrous War on Drugs.

Editor’s note: Brian Greenspun, the CEO, publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun, has an ownership interest in Essence Cannabis Dispensary. 

MAP posted-by: Matt