Decriminalize It, Legalize It, Do Something

March 7, 2012

Texas Legislator's will be again debating whether to legalize or decriminalize marijuana this year.  There is some confusion, however, among the general population as to what those terms mean.  Hopefully, this post will clear that up.

Decriminalization means that marijuana possession will still be illegal, but a violation of that law will not result in a criminal charge, but a civil charge.  You still can be required to appear in court, pay a fine, and possibly ordered to complete other programs or community service.  The major advantage to decriminalization to the way things are currently done is that you will not end up with a criminal history.  Some jobs, schools, and school financial assistance programs are unattainable to someone with a criminal conviction of possession of marijuana.  Some countries may also not let you enter if you have a criminal conviction for possession of marijuana.  Obviously, decriminalization is a huge move forward from the criminal penalties you face today, but advocates of legalized marijuana say that it goes too far.  Under the decriminalization laws the police may still be able to search you and your vehicle or belongings, and may be able to arrest you. 

Legalized marijuana advocates argue that while decriminalization is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough fast enough.  Legalizing marijuana, they argue, will have a huge economic impact on the American economy overnight.  First, governments at all levels may tax the production or sale of marijuana.  The tax revenues generated from this will support the government services currently being cut due to lost revenues across all levels of government.  Secondly, they argue, it will stop the government from taking money as fines and judgments from honest, hardworking citizens.  Perhaps the strongest argument for the legalization of marijuana is that it will immediately reduce the power and wealth of the cartels who are currently killing people all across the world in furtherance of their criminal enterprise.  Just as Al Capone and others gained huge amounts of wealth and power during the era of alcohol prohibition, the cartels are gaining that wealth and power today.  And, just as the legalization of alcohol bankrupted their criminal organizations, it will bankrupt the criminal organizations of the cartels.

Whether you are for medical marijuana, decriminalization, or legalization, you have to let your elected leaders know your position if you want them to change the current policies.  We are in an election year.  Now is the time to question people running for office about their position on this issue.  If you could ask one question of a political candidate about this issue, what would that question be and why?  Tell us in the comment section below.