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On the Decriminalization of Pot: But Will it Really Save Money?

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  • On the Decriminalization of Pot: But Will it Really Save Money?

    California has, for the most part, served as the ground zero for the battle over whether and to what degree to decriminalize marijuana.

    Slowly, however, that smoky green spotlight has shifted to other parts of the country. And right now, it seems pretty squarely fixed on Rhode Island, of all places.

    The latest: the Ocean State’s senate is currently holding hearings on whether to overhaul of the state’s pot laws, starting with decriminalization of small amounts of pot. Click here for the story from the Providence Journal (aka the ‘ProJo’, a name almost as cool as the Detroit ‘Freep’); here for a WSJ story from Wednesday.

    Many pro-legalization advocates have touted the potential financial benefits to a state that is able to regulate — and tax — the sale of marijuana. There doesn’t seem to be much debate over the fact that a state would be able to dent its deficit by legalizing and taxing.

    But some states aren’t looking that far ahead. Rather, they’re looking at decriminalization as a first step. Last month, Massachusetts officially decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, following the passage of a ballot measure in November.

    Here’s the particularly interesting part. Decriminalization advocates are using cost arguments as well, even when the issue is decoupled from the taxing issue.

    But it’s proving to be a tougher case to make. Because, well, who knows what decriminalization would do? It, writes the ProJo, might save the state millions of dollars in prosecution and prison costs, or it could have the opposite effect, forcing state prosecutors to litigate scores of cases they now plead down to simple possession of marijuana.

    Matthew S. Dawson, deputy chief of the criminal division within the Rhode Island attorney general’s office, said there would be “zero savings,” adding that because “there is no one in prison for marijuana only,” decriminalization would do very little to drive prison costs down.

    The issue is playing out in other states as well. New Hampshire is considering a pair of House bills, one to legalize and tax pot sales, and another to decriminalize possession. A medical-marijuana bill passed last year but was vetoed by the governor.

    Decriminalization measures have also been introduced in Vermont, Virginia and Washington, while medical-marijuana bills are being considered in Maryland, Delaware and Wisconsin, among other states.

  • #2
    Re: On the Decriminalization of Pot: But Will it Really Save Money?

    Bad idea! just encourages more of it all...


    • #3
      Re: On the Decriminalization of Pot: But Will it Really Save Money?

      Yes, let's just keep watching which latest celebrity (not counting the non-celebrities who are dying of prescription drug overdoses as I type this) has died from prescription drugs.

      The only reason marijuana is considered an "illegal" substance is because nobody can patent it and make money off it. You can bet your bottom dollar that if the pharmaceutical companies could patent pot, it would have been legal decades ago.

      Cite a case in which a person died of a marijuana overdose, or killed someone else while using it. Prescription drugs are much more dangerous and over-abused than pot. Name one prescription drug that does [i]not[/b] have side effects that are just as bad (or worse) as what the person is taking the drug for in the first place.


      • #4
        Re: On the Decriminalization of Pot: But Will it Really Save Money?

        I believe Colorado i the first state to legalize marijuana to a certain extent.

        Very weird seeing mom and pop stores selling weed.

        I believe you have to get a medical exemption, but whats that gonna do? I already know a few people who got one through a corrupt doctor.


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