The marijuana debate will no doubt be heating up with news that Legalize Maine has submitted paperwork for a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. Legalize Maine is a Maine organization, without any ties to national or out-of-state special interest groups, that seeks to bring this important question to the people themselves.
Marijuana legalization has always been a heated debate and often because of a wrong focus. Instead of debating the safety and moral implications of the plant, we should be debating the level of government control we’re allowing in our lives. We should also make note of the financial impact it has on the taxpayer.
The War on Drugs has been, by all rational accounts, a failure. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the U.S. Government spends $51 billion irresponsibly playing moral police in the privacy of people’s personal lives. 693,482 individuals were arrested in 2013 alone on marijuana violations, with 88% of them being simple possession charges.
In the process of all of this, the government is feeding a dark black market that requires additional law enforcement spending and prison space. All of this is a significant bill the taxpayers must foot.
On the financial side of things, a great deal of revenue could be made if marijuana is taxed as opposed to criminalized. Maine would likely benefit from having a police force that could productively focus on actual crimes, such as murder and theft, as opposed to people owning a plant.
Colorado, for example, has reportedly collected $44 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana alone, according to WKBN27.
Opponents of marijuana legalization are not worried about moral impact, because nobody is targeting big pharma or discussing banning synthetic chemical compounds that have much more damaging effects on society and the human body. This is about fearmongering by special interests that have long kept society locked in a phobia of marijuana.
The police force will continue to oppose marijuana legalization because more crimes creates greater job security. The government will continue to oppose marijuana legalization because of the power trip.
Fortunately in Maine, Legalize Maine will be taking this question to the people for them to decide.
And in all reality, most people aren’t concerned about what individuals do in their own private lives. If this infringes upon their own lives wrongfully, by influence creating dangerous conditions or relating in loss of property, then there are laws already in place to react to this.
Again, opposition to marijuana legalization is about special interests and government control. This has nothing to do about the people’s safety or social morality.
We have a unique opportunity here in Maine to once again take the lead in America. We can enact freedom for individuals to do as they wish privately, with tax revenue contributing to the state government, while freeing up tax dollars and relieving the taxpayer of the heavy burden of the drug war.
This is not an initiative being pushed by out-of-state special interests groups looking for trophies on their career shelf or victories under their political belt. This is by Mainers for Mainers, doing what is best for Mainers.
This discussion will no doubt become more in depth in the months ahead and we must all come to the table with an open mind. This is a serious policy topic that has had a significant financial effect on society for decades. Let’s not make the wrong decision here.