Locking people up or slapping them with very steep fines has not stopped society from using marijuana. Two out of five people in the U.S. say they’ve used marijuana in the last year even though it is illegal. Our failed laws have the police running around after people who have a little bit of marijuana on them, while serious crimes go unsolved. The only ones getting rich off the war on marijuana are street gangs, violent cartels and privately-run prisons. And they don’t pay taxes.
We can change all that in November by voting Yes on Measure 91. Instead of wasting police officers time and our tax money busting people who aren’t hurting anyone, they can investigate violent crimes, catch car thieves, and push out the drug cartels who run things now. Instead of criminals, local business owners will sell a safe product, because it will be tested, in licensed establishments that must follow the law or lose their investments.
I worked in law enforcement and prison management for years. I’ve seen the burden on the system and the tight budgets. Measure 91 will relieve the strain of handing marijuana cases. Plus, taxes from the legitimate system will produce tens of millions of dollars into the state. The way they wrote the measure, the tax money can only be used to pay for improved state and local law enforcement, drug treatment and prevention programs, and schools. That sounds a lot better than criminal gangs and drug dealers making all the money selling it right now.
I’m a family man. I don’t want drug dealers hanging around anywhere they want, selling to anyone they want without ever checking ID. I’d prefer that business owners who are following the rules be in charge. I’ve seen the affects of alcohol in society, and yet there is a place for it among responsible adults under a regulated system where sales are controlled and it’s kept away from kids. Measure 91 will regulate marijuana like we do with beer and wine now, only with much more stringent standards and limits.
Under the current, criminal system an arrest or citation is a serious disruption for someone’s life. You might hear that it’s no worse than a speeding ticket, but that’s just not accurate. It’s a criminal blemish that appears on your public record. It can be what keeps a well-qualified and skilled candidate from a career opportunity. This affects a person’s ability to support his or her family, reduces the taxes that person would generate for public use, and therefore impacts the overall bottom line of the very structure that places the blemish on that person in the first place. Circular waves of decimation.
I’m a software engineer. I know that when one approach to a problem fails over and over again, it’s time to try a different approach. Treating marijuana use as a crime has failed to accomplish the desired result. Now it’s time to try a smarter, better system of regulation. I’m voting Yes on Measure 91.
Sherwood “Skip” Munk lives in Salem