Letter: Regulate and tax marijuana
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Viewers of the Ken Burns documentary “Prohibition” noticed the parallels between federal efforts to prohibit alcohol and current federal efforts to prohibit marijuana. Eventually the federal government recognized that prohibition was futile and over the objections of bootleggers and organized crime repealed the 18th Amendment. Alcohol became regulated and taxed. This is the same case with marijuana. After 40 years of failed efforts to prohibit the use of a plant that could be grown in the backyard, its time to heed the 1972 Shafer Commission report (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Commission_on_Marihuana_and_Drug_Abuse), which recommended the decriminalization of marijuana.
Washington’s proposed Initiative 502 and similar efforts in Oregon and Colorado are a way to throw down the gauntlet to the federal government. A challenge. Cannabis — Washington state grown, Washington state processed and sold in stand-alone outlets — could be licensed, regulated and taxed. Powerful lobbies at the federal level, big pharma, the prison industry, organized crime to name a few, have substantial economic interests in keeping marijuana illegal. Nevertheless, it is time to stop wasting resources attempting to enforce the unenforceable. Besides, Washington state needs the jobs and the revenue legalized cannabis will provide.