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A Third Perspective: It’s time to legalize marijuana in New Hampshire

TNH Columnist

Published: Friday, February 14, 2014

Updated: Friday, February 14, 2014 00:02

On Jan. 1, 2014, thousands of Coloradans eagerly lined up to make their first legal purchase of recreational marijuana. Amendment 64, a ballot measure that passed in 2012 with 55 percent of Colorado voters in favor, legalized the recreational use of marijuana and permits adults aged 21 years or older to purchase up to an ounce of it. The law also places the onus of regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of marijuana on the state government. This unprecedented experiment in governmental regulation of weed is still in its infancy, but all signs are indicating that what’s good for pot enthusiasts is good for government—and more than likely good for society.

In the first week of the law’s implementation, Colorado marijuana dispensaries witnessed staggering sales. The 37 dispensaries that were able to meet the state’s requirements by Jan. 1 made a total of $1 million on the first day and roughly $5 million over the course of the week. Regulators have projected an eye-popping $600 million in marijuana sales for Colorado dispensaries in 2014, $70 million of which the state expects to receive in tax revenue.

A provision in the Colorado ballot measure ensures that the first $40 million collected in taxes will be spent directly on the state’s public education system while the remainder will be used regulate marijuana distribution, refocus drug enforcement efforts and revitalize flagging drug awareness programs.

That millions of dollars are now being poured (legally) into Colorado’s economy and public schools is well known, but where this money is no longer going deserves greater attention. Illicit drug dealers, suppliers and gangs within and outside of Colorado will see their sales plummet by hundreds of millions of dollars in 2014.

Selling weed is the lifeblood of the vast majority of gangs in America; Colorado’s decision to cut off illegitimate cash flows will have a beneficial social impact across the country. Gangs will have less money to spend on weapons and, more poignantly, less to offer potential recruits: teenagers at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder who join on the promise of making easy cash.

Consequently, authorities will no longer need to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate as many gang members as they do today, which will save precious resources and preserve a felony-free future for countless young Americans. Extrapolating even further, fewer funds will reach the insidious cartels in Central and South America, and this will eventually cripple their ability to wage violent wars over supply routes to the U.S. and sap their motivation for doing so.

Colorado is to be the first of many states (Washington is next) that will soon enjoy the profound economic and social benefits that come with legal marijuana. New Hampshire has taken note; the House of Representatives passed a marijuana legalization bill in January that was modeled on the Colorado legislation. However, the bill is unlikely to make it through the state senate and, if by some miracle it passes, Governor Maggie Hassan has publicly expressed her intention to veto the law.

This raises the question: why? Weed is no more stigmatized in New Hampshire than in Colorado or Washington (in fact some studies have indicated that New Hampshire has greater per capita use of marijuana than Colorado), and New Hampshire could certainly benefit from additional tax revenue.

Opponents of marijuana legalization have long argued that the drug (dare I say plant) creates a dependency in the user, and that pot is the proverbial “gateway drug.” This argument, more appropriately titled a myth, has never been grounded in science and is simply not tenable. Proponents of this belief point to the fact that marijuana users are statistically more likely to have tried cocaine than non-marijuana users, but this is entirely misleading. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences has publicly stated: “Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. … There is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”

Governor Hassan should evaluate the science, or lack thereof, behind the claims of marijuana prohibitionists. If any semblance of a gateway effect exists, it arises out of marijuana’s illegality, which forces casual smokers to purchase from dealers that in many cases have access to harder drugs. To place marijuana in the same realm as cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine is ridiculous; it’s time to end this myopic strategy. New Hampshire has every reason—economic, social and otherwise—to join Colorado and embrace the growing national trend. Just as with alcohol, we will look back with head-scratching bemusement and wonder why governments outlawed marijuana in the first place.

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5 comments

Anonymous
Thu Mar 6 2014 01:15
I won't say that weed is not cancer-causing and won't create problems for people, but it is a nice, relaxing, pain relieving, stomach issue relieving... the list of benefits goes on (and there are, no doubt, negative aspects to it as well.) Crime is lower, black markets would shrink. Hassan, it's time to represent your constituents!
Anonymous
Mon Feb 17 2014 11:08
One reason politicians are so reluctant to legalize cannabis is
that when people find out that cannabis IS SAFE, cannabis IS NON-TOXIC, cannabis is NON-ADDICTIVE, they will ask difficult
questions like 'why was cannabis prohibited in the first place?",
or 'why were millions of Americans imprisoned for possession of a plant safer than tomatoes?'

it's going to get REAL embarrassing when people realize they have been played the fool for decades... the politicians have only themselves to blame for keeping this charade going for as long as it has.

Anonymous
Sun Feb 16 2014 00:48
United States Patent 6,630,507
Hampson , et al. October 7, 2003
Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants

Abstract
Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia

Brian Kelly
Fri Feb 14 2014 13:29
The "War on Marijuana" has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful "War on Drugs" that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending "War on Marijuana", lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It's a no brainer.

The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

Marijuana is much safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

Let's end this hypocrisy now!

The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less "crimes" because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that's approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

Anonymous
Fri Feb 14 2014 11:02
The ONLY thing dangerous about marijuana are the cops who shoot people for having it:

Number of American deaths per year that result directly or primarily from the following selected causes nationwide, according to World Almanacs, Life Insurance Actuarial (death) Rates, and the last 20 years of U.S. Surgeon Generals' reports.

TOBACCO - 340,000 to 450,000

ALCOHOL (Not including 50% of all highway deaths and 65% of all murders) - 150,000+

ASPIRIN (Including deliberate overdose) - 180 to 1,000+

CAFFEINE (From stress, ulcers, and triggering irregular heartbeats, etc.) - 1,000 to 10,000

"LEGAL" DRUG OVERDOSE (Deliberate or accidental) from legal, prescribed or patent medicines and/or mixing with alcohol - e.g. Valium/alcohol - 14,000 to 27,000

ILLICIT DRUG OVERDOSE - (Deliberate or accidental) from all illegal drugs - 3,800 to 5,200

MARIJUANA - 0

(Marijuana users also have the same or lower incidence of murders and highway deaths and accidents than the general non-marijuana using population as a whole. Cancer Study, UCLA; U.S. Funded ($6 million), First & Second Jamaican Studies, 1968 to 1974; Costa Rican Studies, 1980 to 1982; et al. LOWEST TOXICITY 100% of the studies done at dozens of American universities and research facilities show pot toxicity does not exist. Medical history does not record anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana (UCLA, Harvard, Temple, etc.)





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