Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A modest proposal for ending the "Drug War" in Delaware

Four steps is all it would take to end Delaware's drug war:

1.  Fix the medical marijuana bill.  This is already being contemplated, I understand.  A medical marijuana bill without an actual delivery method is worse than useless because it is mere tantalizing to those in chronic paid.  This is a simple fix, except for the propensity of the Drug Enforcement Agency to get involved with ignoring state laws about drugs that DEA doesn't like.  So as a specific legislative flourish, this revision should include language that requires the Delaware Attorney General to defend any legitimate distributor of medical marijuana or any patient legally using it from all Federal charges.

2.  Decriminalize personal use of marijuana.  As an interim step toward legalization, decriminalization would replace the possibility of jail time and a permanent record with small civil fines.  This would, frankly, also discourage intense enforcement.  It would also render much of Delaware's drug court apparatus unnecessary.

3.  Get all non-violent drug offenders out of Delaware prisons.  If there is a true medical addiction problem, fix it.  That is almost always significantly cheaper than incarceration.  Moreover, doing so would be a major savings to the state and allow actual violent criminals to be handed sentences commensurate with their crimes rather than sentencing guidelines in effect because we haven't got enough prison beds.

4.  Regulate it like wine--ala Colorado.  Legalize and tax it.

You might ask, why doesn't he advocate immediate legalization and skip all the interim steps?

Simple:  Equality Delaware has convinced me that the multi-step, coalition-building, steady progression strategy actually works faster.

Comments?

8 comments:

Duffy said...

"Comments?"

Yes. Faster, please.

NCSDad said...

And faster than that. But it's a good start. When do you offer legislation? Oh, that's right ... Gotta rely on either R's or D's for that.

tom said...

This would be a good start, but don't fool yourself into believing that it would do much good in ending the "drug war".

Marijuana is not the problem -- cocaine & heroin are. as long as those remain criminalized you will still have drug-law related violence in Wilmington and other low income areas, and there will be no way to force the state to begin dismantling its prison industry.

Removing marijuana from the equation will, if anything, only serve to make Delaware's "drug war" even more racist than it is now.

I am not saying that we should necessarily make cocaine & opiates as accessible as beer & cigarettes, but there needs to be some legal avenue for users & addicts to obtain it. And if the restrictions placed on that legal method are too onerous, the black market will persist.

Delaware Watch said...

I used to advocate legalizing and regulating pot for both the civil liberty and potential revenue considerations. Now I am just for decriminalization. The reason is that regulation won't (I believe) sufficiently discourage people from growing and distributing their own so as to significantly decrease people getting into trouble with law and getting criminal records that are appallingly unnecessary. The thing is that 1-3 plants grown each year is sufficient to meet someone's usage needs. Why bother paying the state for what one can easily grow for themselves? I also think that for this very reason there won't be sufficient private investment to grow pot on a scale that will make state monopolization for casual users workable. Why would big agri-corps compete with individuals growing their own? There is no market control. If big agricultural had thought they could achieve market control, they would have gotten their elected political lackeys to legalize pot long ago.

NCSDad said...

http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/04/25/17913914-a-new-day-for-the-war-on-drugs
I wonder if Barack Obama needs rehabilitation for his use. They gotta learn there us a difference between use and abuse.

tom said...

Dana,

Your reasoning does not make much sense.

First: in any sort of rational legalization (or even decriminalization) scheme, growing your own pot for personal use, including small-scale distribution among friends would not be a criminal offense. at worst it would earn you the equivalent of a speeding ticket.

Second: even though it grows like a weed, we are not interested in making rope here. It requires a certain amount of skill, and a bit of time and effort to grow Marijuana suitable for medical or recreational use. It may be beyond the abilities of many cancer patients, and it is probably not worth the time for most casual users as long as you don't tax & regulate so onerously that it is cheaper & easier to grow your own.

Consider beer. the equivalent of Big-Ag dominates the lower end and middle of the market. there is no point in anyone trying to compete with Bud, Miller or Coors unless you are an equally large corporation or serve a niche market. At the high end, you have your Craft breweries, Brew-Pubs, and home brewers, but they do not seriously affect the revenues generated by the large companies

Delaware Watch said...

Tom, you conflate legalization with decriminalization. They are not the same. I am for decriminalization in which no one would be charged for anything except maybe minors. You say that in a rational legalization scheme, growing your own would be a minor offense. I hope so. But it's irrational to think governments always act rationally, especially those under the sway of huge vested interests like big agriculture. You say growing your own is difficult. There is a degree of difficulty in growing pot inside but not outside, which would be the likely site if decriminalization should occur. You say it wouldn't be worth the time to grow your own if the government didn't tax and regulate it heavily. Yes, and if gravity were optional falling from great heights wouldn't be catastrophic. Of course, they will tax and regulate it heavily. How strange that I am the one suspicious of the government on this blog site. The beer company analogy is not analogous because it is impossible for most people to grow in their back yards everything they need to satisfy their annual rate of beer consumption. That's why big companies find it lucrative. The customer needs them. But you can grow in your backyard all the pot you would need for a year. That makes the dominance by the big companies unnecessary.

Alma said...

This is cool!