Current marijuana policy in Alabama, and across America, lacks reason, intelligence and sanity. It creates criminal empires, puts our children in unnecessary danger and clogs our courts and prisons with people who would be considered normal productive members of society, but because they choose to use marijuana as opposed to alcohol, they are considered criminal.
These are just some of the problems that prohibition creates, but a sensible approach to marijuana policy would solve those problems and many of the other problems that currently plague our state.
The Rand and Tarter studies show that marijuana users are not more likely to progress to hard drug use. A study comparing marijuana users in San Francisco where its use is illegal and Amsterdam where adults over the age of 18 can legally use marijuana show that hard drug use is four times higher in San Francisco. It concludes that on the illegal market purchasing marijuana presents the purchaser with access to hard drugs that they would not normally have and that in Amsterdam rates are lower because hard drugs are not as readily available to the public.
The prohibition of marijuana promotes violence, costs millions of dollars in law enforcement/corrections, and violates the constitutional rights of Americans. Using marijuana does not present a viable danger to anyone. Therefore, denying the use of marijuana, or arresting someone for the use of marijuana is not only a violation of our personal rights and liberties… it is asinine.
That is why I believe it is time to remove marijuana from schedule I and place it among the group of schedule V drugs that can be sold over-the-counter pursuant to age verification. Doing this will allow the states to tax and regulate marijuana as they see fit.
This will create a much needed revenue stream for states across the country.
The United States spends more than $7 billion and arrests more than 800,000 of its citizens each year due to the prohibition of marijuana.
According to Harvard economist Jeffery Miron, legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion each year. That breaks down to $5.3 billion in savings for state and local governments and a savings of $2.4 billion for the federal government. In addition to those savings, Miron’s study also shows that taxing marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes would generate $6.2 billion in revenue nationwide. The lion’s share of that revenue would go to the states.
Last year, Colorado received more than $76 million from the taxes and licensing fees from the marijuana industry. Their economy exceeded expectations, marijuana sales and marijuana based tourism are among the factors that contributed to their economic success.
Alabama, like many states, has seen its tax revenue dwindle over the last few years. We are currently experiencing a $265 million budget deficit in Alabama. According to estimates Alabama could raise $63 million in tax revenue and save $95 million in enforcement costs, which means a positive revenue adjustment of $158 million.
In addition to placing marijuana on schedule V, the legislation I present would exempt industrial hemp and completely remove it from the controlled substance list, which would allow farmers across the nation to grow hemp under normal farming regulations with no special provisions.
The production of hemp was halted in the US with passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, which made all variations of the cannabis plant illegal in the U.S.
The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not recognize the value of industrial hemp and permit its production. Currently, over thirty countries produce industrial hemp, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.
According to The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), hemp can be grown organically. Only eight, out of about one hundred known pests, cause problems, and hemp is most often grown without herbicides, fungicides or pesticides. Hemp is also a natural weed suppressor due to fast growth of the canopy.
Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper.
Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard. No additional resins are required due to naturally-occurring lignins.
Eco-friendly hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done to use hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products: plant-based cellophane, recycled plastic mixed with hemp for injection-molded products, and resins made from the oil, to name a very few examples. Over two million cars on the road today have hemp composite parts for door panels, dashboards, luggage racks, etc.
Agriculture is Alabama’s leading industry and with more than 9 million acres of farmland, and nearly 50,000 Alabama farms, the regulations that farmers face play a significant effect on Alabama’s economy.
Therefore, it is important that we provide Alabama farmers with the means to be successful, but with the push for renewable energies and green technologies the future of the Alabama Farmer includes the production of usable fiber and that means the production of hemp.
It is very simple; we can continue the prohibition policies of the past that breed violence, violate the rights of our citizens and cost our criminal justice system a fortune, or we can install a system that cuts the criminal element out of the equation, generates billions of dollars a year in tax revenue, provides farmers with a valuable cash crop and reduces our children’s access to hard drugs.
It seems like an easy decision to me.
Eleven part series on my 9-point economic plan:
We need your support!
For this campaign to be successful it will require a strong and organized grassroots campaign, starting today, I will be traveling the state speaking to groups and organizations, attending festivals and local events as I bring new progressive ideas to the public. With brochures and flyers to print, event fees to pay and advertising to place, I cannot do it alone.
Thanks in advance for your support.