Thursday, May 13, 2010

Detroit Turning Over a New Leaf?
http://tinyurl.com/2u643pa

Looks as if there are potential proposals in the Michigan state legislature that would clear the way for a ballot proposal to legalize possession of marijuana in the city of Detroit (Medical marijuana is already legal in the state, but laws are fuzzy as to who can produce it). Well, we know what Snoop Dogg might say.. Among the disparate array of individuals interviewed in favor of decriminalization or legalization are Democratic state rep Lamar Lemons, former Republican state rep Leon Drolet and prominent Detroit-based businessman Pete Karmanos. The coalition of professionals involved with the proposal, as well as advocacy organizations like the non-profit Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, go against the cliche' of pro-legalization efforts by aging ex-hippie activists like actor Tommy Chong, or even the fallen-academic example of the late Timothy Leary and his "tune in, turn on, drop out" philosophy.

This author believes that all currently illegal substances should be legalized, taxed heavily and regulated. Having a universal set of standards in place would actually cut down on the unpurity that most street-level product has (and its the other stuff that also adds to side-effects for users). There should be age limits for access, say, age 21. Schools and workplaces can still have anti-drug statutes, same as before. Just like you can't drink on the job, you can't get be high on the job, and can still be fired for failing a drug test. You'd still be arrested for driving while high. Feel free to make the penalties harsh with fines. Also, there should only be licensed outlets for sales of said substances, say, pharmacies.
Now, many mainstream pharmacies (Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS) may balk at selling metered doses of 'coca', but, maybe this is where smaller-scale, independent pharmacies can make their niche, and become thriving small businesses again, since so many of them in recent decades have lost ground to the Big-Box pharmacy outlets. It's interesting that journalist Darrell Dawsey interviewed some fellows who 'allegedly' are involved in street trafficking and are opposed to legalization (http://tinyurl.com/25xoyc4). This would mean that they would have to go to school and be licensed to sell drugs now to make any real salary. I'm for it. The Tax money can be used for prevention programs, rehab programs, public schools, transit improvement, and more.
However, there would be nearly impossible obstacles to overcome in getting traction for this at the legislative level. No one really wants to hear the logic in the decriminalization argument, let alone the legalization/taxation/regulation argument. Almost literally no mainstream politician looking to get reelected again, Democrat or Republican, will get behind this. The super-patriotic, tough-on-crime absolutists (mostly suburban residents) will insist that society has "waved the white flag" to drug gangs. Some black activists will insist that it is a "white folks thing" trying to get pushed on black Detroit (and potentially, other heavily-minority municipalities). The religious community will harp on this incessantly as an example of "turning away from God" and "embracing hedonism"-- look at Marvin Winans with the Detroit strip-clubs debate. You will have people trying to flip the argument that legalization means you're telling school-aged Johnny and Jane that it's okay to shoot up heroin (No, that's not what the argument is). I find it curious that there are any number of folks who don't mind the "legalized sin" of casinos, and who would throw a fit if alcohol were banned (again), and who get upset at public-smoking restrictions, but they absolutely are against any form of drug legalization because it's a "slippery slope".

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