The Marc Steiner Show

Marc on Legalizing Pot

It is such a beautiful, unseasonably cool August morning, crisp, cool and a tad cloudy.  I picked up the Sunday papers on my way back in from walking our dog, Charley.  I opened the Times, put it down and glanced at the front page of the Sun, below the fold on the right hand side.  “Community in shock over Harford man’s drug charges … Ecologist, decades long teacher revered by residents.”

 

My gut told me this was not some heroin dealing, gun toting, cocaine smuggling outlaw swaggering through the Harford County landscape posing as a mild mannered teacher of our children.  I was sadly right, as I read the story.  Sadly right and really, really pissed off.  

 

A sixty-two-year-old man who spent his life teaching kids about nature, our environment and love of life.  He smokes marijuana and it appears as if he might consume some psilocybin mushrooms sometimes.  He must really be an evil man.  Pretty soon, all the kids in Harford will be smoking dope, dropping acid, snorting cocaine, having sex and god knows what else.  Known as Ranger Bob to all the kids, why, if there ever was a contrived name, Ranger Bob is it.  Look, he even has a beard and plays Santa Clause on his Christmas tree farm.   That’s how he snares all those kids.  The devil in disguise.   You think he is really teaching about the earth, nature and our history, respecting life and the planet we live on…

 

OK, enough with the sarcasm, but this is just madness.   I don’t think anyone should go to jail, or have their home or children threatened with seizure, or livelihood taken away from them for smoking, growing or even selling marijuana.   Most Americans who are 62 and lived through the counter culture world of hippies, slogged through a rice paddy in Nam, were active in the anti-war movement, in some non-combatant military role or alive in 1968 smoked a joint.  Presidents did it.   Some folks still do it that lead functional, successful and productive lives.  

 

Most people I know, at some point in their lives, smoked dope.   There is a reason why we call it dope.   So, most of us don’t do it anymore.   Most of us don’t get drunk anymore.   We have more important things to deal with then people’s personal behaviors. 

 

People should not go to jail for using marijuana.  We should legalize it, tax it and let it be.   Grow hemp so we can stop cutting down trees for paper, and let marijuana bloom like we grow tobacco for cigarettes and hops for beer and barley for whiskey.    Many Indian reservations want the chance to grow hemp for industrial uses.   It could help our environment, create new jobs and new industries.  

 Every 45 seconds someone is arrested on a marijuana charge, and most of those for mere possession.   In 2003, the last statistics I could find, there was an all time high (no pun intended) of 755,186 with 88 percent of those arrests were for possession, not the manufacture or distribution, of marijuana.  The cost in imprisonment of these offenders’ amounts is conservatively $1.2 billion each year.   If you are arrested for growing over 100 marijuana plants you go to jail for a minimum of five years.  That is longer than for manslaughter or for grant theft auto.  Conservatively, it costs $1.5 billion a year to incarcerate these folks.  If you add in law enforcement and courts along with imprisonment, it may be as high as $15 billion a year. We could have spent that money to build new schools, to open homeless shelters or veterans’ hospitals, to preserve the environment or even to fund anti-drug programs in schools. 

Harvard Economist Dr. Jeffrey Alan Miron produced a highly acclaimed study, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," which was endorsed by hundreds of economists, including conservative leaders like

Dr. Milton Friedman of the Hoover Institute, Dr. George Akerlof of the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Vernon Smith of George Mason University.  He concludes that “replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels for a combined savings of $10 to 14 billion dollars."

 Everyone has statistics.   This argument has been going on for a long time.  The bottom line is that chasing down pot smokers is a waste of our time, energy and money.   People should have the right to have as they wish, consume what they want and pursue their pleasures as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others, harm our children or the environment.   

Bob Chance, by all accounts from the former Mayor of Bel Air to the head of their county library, is a good soul who loves children and a defender of our environment who loves teaching.  He should not have his life destroyed because he likes to smoke pot on his own time.  He should be able to wake up on this unseasonably cool August morning not worrying about going to jail or losing his beloved farm.

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Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show airs Monday thru Friday from 10AM to Noon on WEAA 88.9 FM. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Call us at 410.319.8888 or email us to participate live in the show, or share your comments on our site! Aren’t in Baltimore but want to listen? Stream the show live.


Comments

  1. There are plenty misjudgements when it comes to marijuana charges and that’s because people are still confused about it, they still don’t have a clea legal status of marijuana. Many people go to jail because of marijuana but how many of them are actually dangerous? The problem starts from the law and the law should find the solution. 

    Geremy, drug intervention

     

  2. I would have to agree with your stance, Marc.

    Presidential candidate Ralph Nader was on the radio last week expressing a similar position on the subject. I actually believe that due to the large sums of money generated from the current marijuana laws, these laws will be difficult to overturn. But, California gives us hope.

    Check out the documentary “Cocaine Cowboys” to gain yet a better understanding of how money, power, and law works in this country…

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