Sarah Yacoub is an attorney at Equal Justice Inc.
Wisconsin LRB-2457, a bill worth $2.4 billion in economic activity and 18,000 new jobs in a single year alone, would have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. The bill failed.
Now here in St. Croix County, we have a pending resolution on the August ballot. It will undoubtedly take the vocal will of the people to bring the Green Rush to Wisconsin.
Here's why I like it:
The black market for marijuana is estimated to be worth $20 billion. That's $20 billion going to Mexican and South American drug cartels, most of which is out of the reach of United States law enforcement. Simple economic supply-demand theory tells us that so long as there is a demand, there will be a supply. The demand for marijuana, even in light of its illegality, is not going anywhere.
Sounds an awful lot like the dynamics of alcohol from 1920 through 1933 with Prohibition. I would much rather see that $20 billion go to American small businesses to benefit American families and the American economy.
While the concept of marijuana being the gateway drug has been widely scientifically debunked, it gets cited enough that it's worth addressing. Time magazine did a piece on the issue back in 2010. The majority of people who had tried marijuana never tried another drug. Newsweek examined the issue in 2015, confirmed earlier findings and revealed more. Studies show hard drug use to be tied to poverty and poor social environment, association with people who use hard drugs and that criminalization and prohibition contribute to hard drug use as chances are the drug dealer who sells marijuana also sells meth, heroin, ecstasy, etc.
Our current local war on marijuana is actually pushing our youth to skip marijuana and opt for different drugs, hard drugs. Why? Well, marijuana stinks to high heaven. It's too easy to get caught and have your car turned upside down in a search during a traffic stop. Pills, meth, heroin more commonly fly under the radar.
How many of our veterans return home battling PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain? One veteran described routinely waking up in the middle of the night with night terrors. He explained that he would much rather smoke marijuana, which would allow him to go back to sleep, than take the handful of pills that had been prescribed to him given their side effects and addiction potential. It is undisputed that opiates make chronic pain worse in the long term. Nonetheless, we still see people getting highly addictive opiates for management of chronic pain.
Why go down that path when marijuana is marijuana is an option?
With soaring costs of prescription drugs and the fact that marijuana is a weed that can grow anywhere, one can understand why drug companies and politicians funded by big money are resisting legalization. If we remind our politicians who they work for, perhaps we'll see more support for the interests of the people.