Guest MINDSETTERS™: A Sensible Marijuana Policy for Rhode Island
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
-Our current marijuana policy has failed. For instance, studies indicate an increase in youth marijuana use and that it is easy for them to get it.
-Most Rhode Islanders are ready for change.
A survey conducted last month by Public Policy Polling reinforced our conclusions, finding that a solid majority of Rhode Island voters support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol, allowing adults over the age of 21 to use it. These results are right in line with several national polls that indicate a rapidly growing majority of Americans agree it is time to make marijuana legal.
“A Failure of Tragic Proportions”
Marijuana prohibition has been a failure of tragic proportions. It has failed to prevent use or abuse. It has been a distraction for law enforcement officials who should be focusing elsewhere. Marijuana prohibition has resulted in criminal records for thousands of otherwise law-abiding adults and limited the ability of too many of our young people to access financial aid for higher education. Insidiously, this prohibition has forced marijuana sales into an underground market where more dangerous products such as heroin and cocaine are also offered. Ironically, prohibition ensures that the state has no control over the product. Criminals fight over the profits and our state and municipalities forego millions of dollars of tax revenue.
Prevention and Treatment
Importantly, we can redirect our drug prevention and treatment resources toward addressing the abuse of more harmful drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin and prescription narcotics. We can urge teens to stay away from marijuana until their brains are fully developed.
Those who wish to maintain our current prohibition laws often claim marijuana is a “gateway drug” that will inevitably lead to the use of other drugs, but studies suggest otherwise. According to a 1999 study commissioned by the White House and performed by the Institute of Medicine, marijuana “does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse.”
Marijuana’s illegal status creates the gateway. By forcing marijuana consumers into the underground market, we dramatically increase the possibility that they will be exposed to more dangerous substances. Separating marijuana from the illicit drug markets while reducing exposure to more addictive and dangerous substances cannot help but reduce any gateway effect associated with marijuana use. Customers buying a bottle of wine for dinner are not, after all, offered heroin.
Under marijuana prohibition, illicit profits are used to fund violent gangs, illegal gun markets, human trafficking, and other violent trades. Regulating marijuana will allow us to redirect marijuana sales revenue away from the violent criminal market and toward a meaningful solution. A large portion of tax revenue derived from wholesale transactions will fund programs preventing and treating the abuse of alcohol and other substances. According to federal government data, nearly 2.5 percent of Rhode Islanders needed treatment for hard drugs in 2012 but did not receive it. The recent spike in drug overdose deaths is a stark reminder of the need for treatment and education.
Most people recognize that marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered. The question is now “when should we end it?” not “should we?” Like most Rhode Islanders, we believe now is the time and regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol is the answer.
Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence), chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, are the sponsors of legislation to regulate and tax marijuana in Rhode Island.
New England States with Highest Marijuana Arrest Rates
- A LIVELY EXPERIMENT May 26, 2011 Part 6 Marijuana Decriminalization
- All Marijuana Compassion Center Applications Rejected by Department of Health
- Are Medical Marijuana Users in Rhode Island Risking Their Jobs?
- BREAKING: Chafee Gives Thumbs Down On Medical Marijuana
- Breaking and Entering Doc Holding Marijuana Suspended by RI HEALTH
- In Case You Missed It: Highest Marijuana Prices in New England
- Jared Moffat: Now is the Right Time for RI to Regulate Marijuana
- Leonardo Angiulo: MA Court Takes Hit of Justice in Marijuana Rulings
- Marijuana Less Damaging to Lungs Than Tobacco
- Marijuana Use in the New England States
- Medical Marijuana User Directs Documentary ‘License To Grow’
- Medical Marijuana Vote Set for Today
- NEW: Bill Would Legalize Marijuana in Rhode Island
- NEW: Brown to Host Debate on Marijuana Legalization on April 23
- NEW: Brown, URI Named Top 10 Colleges for Marijuana Activism
- NEW: Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bills
- NEW: Lawmakers to Take Up Medical Marijuana Bill Next Week
- NEW: Legalizing Marijuana Won’t Hurt Kids, Says RI Hospital Study
- NEW: Marijuana Arrest Rates Racially Disparate Toward Blacks
- NEW: Marijuana Decriminalization Bill before Senate Committee Today
- NEW: Medical Marijuana ‘Consultancy’ Shut Down By Dept. of Health
- NEW: Patrick Kennedy Opposed to Legalization of Marijuana
- NEW: Patrick Kennedy in the Middle of Super Bowl Marijuana Fight
- NEW: RI Doc Suspended for Marijuana Abuses, Another Terminated for Facebook Misuse
- NEW: RI Legalization Bill Would Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol
- NEW: RI to Introduce Marijuana Regulation + Taxation Bill
- NEW: Top 10 National Marijuana Stories—Rhode Island’s Got One
- NEW: Watson Tests Positive for Marijuana, Cocaine
- New England States With The Highest Marijuana Arrest Rates
- New Gallup Poll Shows 38% of Americans Have Tried Marijuana
- Newport Manners + Etiquette: Marijuana Manners
- PODCAST: Are Medical Marijuana Users in RI Risking Their Jobs?
- PODCAST: The Highest Marijuana Prices in New England by State
- PODCAST: Will RI Be The Next State To Legalize Marijuana?
- Poll Shows Half of Americans Support Legalizing Marijuana
- RI Dept. of Health Approves First Medical Marijuana Dispensary
- RI Hospital Expert: Is Medical Marijuana Bad for MS Patients?
- RI Hospital: New Treatments for Marijuana Abuse in Parolees
- RI State Report: Is It High Time to Legalize Marijuana?
- RI State Report: Marijuana Decriminalization & Safer Schools
- RI’s Own Miss Universe Olivia Culpo Advocates for Medical Marijuana
- State Budget Paves Way For Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
- State Report: Marijuana Legalization Bill + Tax Hike Proposal
- State Report: Medical Marijuana, RI’s Business Ranking & Obama Supports Cicilline
- State Report: Strippers, Marijuana Dispensaries & Legislive Payraises
- The Highest Marijuana Prices in New England by State
- The Impact of Marijuana Legalization on RI’s College Campuses
- The Scoop - Whitehouse Talks State and Federal Marijuana Laws
- UPDATED: Watson Says Marijuana Use Is Medical
- Will Rhode Island Be The Next State To Legalize Marijuana?
- Will Rhode Island Legalize Marijuana?