Decriminalization of Marijuana
Is it time to Decriminalization Marijuana?
Too Much Cost
The cost of prohibition of Marijuana is huge. The costs to the police, the justice system, the jails is very expensive. Lets not forget the costs to the families of those who get jailed. And who is the victim here? In the case of assult, burglery etc, we have very real victims who need justice to be served. But with Marijuana, the issue is one of the individual and community health. There are many other issues in society causing social ills, but they are not illegal. Why do we choose the expensive option of the law to solve this particular health issue?
But decriminalisation sends the wrong signals?
Decriminalization doesn't say Marijuana is ok. Legalisation doesn't say alcohol and tobacco are ok. The difference between decriminalization and legalisation is significant.
Under decriminalization, it is still a crime to smoke Marijuana. Any one caught smoking will be given a fine similar to speeding or parking illegally. This simple fine sends the signal that it is wrong to smoke, and it will incur a penalty for the perpetrator, but will not incur cost for the police nor justice system. The amount of the fine might be very similar to the fine incurred in court, so the harshness of the penalty in the offenders eyes is the same, but the cost t the tax payer is far reduced.
Under decriminalization is will still be illegal to sell and distribute marijuana, and the police will still need to dedicate the same energy in bringing those gangs to justice. However, decriminalization would cause more users to grow at home, reducing the reward of the black market, taking away an income source for the gangs.
What about legalization?
There is significant social opposition to decriminalization, the chance to reform the justice system should not be lost on that pursuit. However, it should be noted that the harm to society is not much different that alcohol or tobacco, and therefore should be treated in a similar manor. Or alternatively, if we were to outlaw tobacco next year, what sort of outcry would there be?
But isn't Marijuana a gateway drug?
Well I'm sure that the few who take hard drugs did at some time try Marijuana, probably not long after they tried tobacco and beer. They probably all once drank a cup of coffee. The "gateway" link a pretty lame argument.
Just as a hypothetical question, what if we invented a magic pill that made us very "happy" for 30 minutes, with no side effects, no negative health effects, no impaired judgement. Would we as a society ban the this pill, merely because it has the benefits of other "illegal drugs" but not the negative effects? Consider that we have amusement parks to make us happy for a "short time" where we can enjoy "thrills" in a "safe environment". Consider that wine and alcohol is a mood altering drug, and can be purchased from most supermarkets. We must think clearly and logically, why are we banning something. And we must have pretty good evidence.
I don't smoke, I don't want my child to smoke, nor anyone else to smoke (any substance), but if my child did smoke Marijuana behind the bike sheds, or at a university party, I am not going to take him down to the police station to be locked up. Why would I want anyone else's child to be locked up. Given them all a slap on the wrist, a fine for $X and let them come home to their parents to explain the fine, and get a right telling off in the process. Sounds like a perfectly smart way for us to manage a large social issue, and removed wasted time/spending in the justice system.
Posted: Thursday 6 October 2011