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Friday, August 12, 2022

Opinion

Legalize marijuana: America’s oldest war needs to end


Earlier this month, House Bill 2165 — a resolution to legalize the production, sale and consumption of Marijuana — was introduced to the Texas Legislature. Filed by tea-party conservative David Simpson, the bill is one of six resolutions regarding the illicit plant being discussed this legislative session.

Simpson’s bill is distinct in that it grants more freedoms regarding the controlled substance than successful legalization measures in Colorado and Washington, who opted for strict governance. Simpson, who defends the plant as a “creation of God,” explained in a news release that he supported regulating the plant as we would “tomatoes, jalapeños or coffee,” according to The Houston Chronicle.

Simpson doesn’t fit the profile one might expect of a man trying to wrangle a plot for legalized pot in Texas. His far-right ideology draws from popular libertarian ideas like downsizing government and respecting personal liberties.

Simpson drew heavily from his Christian faith in forming his opinion of marijuana, even saying that “everything God made is good, even marijuana.”

Amen, Representative Simpson. Surely the man’s intentions are pure, though I much prefer some rhetoric based in logic than the faith of another.

However, Simpson does use conservative logic to paint a defense of marijuana any red-blooded Texan could understand. Legalizing pot reduces pot-related incarcerations, thus lowering crime rates and decreasing cost to the legal system.

This also frees up resources to deal with violent crimes or properly funding Texas education.

The strategy could save Texas millions, and that doesn’t even speak of the tax revenues and tourism boosts to local economies that come with a “Green Revolution.”

According to CNN, Colorado, the first state to legalize marijuana, pulled in $53,000,000 last year in recreational sales tax alone, with $12,000,000 more coming from medicinal tax.

While this may be a drop in the bucket toward the state budget, Colorado used the money to bolster education statewide. Most importantly, that’s hundreds of millions of American dollars in sales not flowing directly into drug cartel’s hands.

For those who don’t know, the drug cartels — which bring in billions in illicit revenue each year — are responsible for killing well over 100,000 people between 2006 and 2012, reported The Washington Post.

The “War on Drugs” we’ve been fighting since before President Richard Nixon even coined the term back in the seventies has failed. In it’s 44 “official” years, drug related incarcerations have increased tenfold from 50,000 to 500,000, American’s have paid over $1 trillion and drug use is as present as ever here the U.S.

It’s time to accept the facts. The war on drugs has created a system that disproportionately oppresses and jails lower classes, systematically deepening socio-economic stratification and having massive impacts on entire generations. Our “Land of the Free” is the most extensive incarcerator in the world, worse than Russia and China combined.

Simpson’s bill, even if passed, would only be a step in the right direction. Meaningful policy reform must sweep across the federal government, stopping this war on its own citizens by addressing the drug crisis as a public health phenomena. Until then, money will be funneled across the border, killing thousands and further perpetuating the spread of drugs.

It’s time we moved past draconian laws that punish non-violent offenders. While legalization doesn’t suit all illicit drugs, even the staunch conservative Simpson can appreciate the benefits.

“Putting people in prison and teaching them a whole lot about crime, separating them from the family, taking away the breadwinners simply for possessing a plant that God made — that’s wrong,” Simpson said, according to The Houston Chronicle. “I don’t know anyone who’s run off the road because of marijuana. I do know people who have fallen asleep because they ate too much.”

Opinion columnist Jake Drake is a communications sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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