End the Failed War on Drugs

For decades, the Unites States government has been waging a war on drugs at home and abroad. This had led to millions of arrests, countless lives lost, and has kept private prisons full. It has fallen on the state and local police to enforce these laws. This so-called war has caused grave injustices to the American people and has been a total and complete failure. Texas can take control of our own destiny and repudiate these unjust, unfair, and un-scientific laws. This endless, senseless, costly, and non-effective war on drugs must end.

Drug use is not a criminal problem, it is a public health concern. Instead of using our tax dollars putting our citizens in private prisons and jails, Texas needs to fund mental health facilities and provide the help that people truly need. We cannot arrest our way out of this. As the opioid epidemic affects an increasing portion of the nation, lawmakers are starting to view drug use and addiction differently. It is a shame that only once it started to affect their families and their communities, some have started to pay attention and correct the course. As public opinion surges towards supporting full legalization, lawmakers still fail to do the right thing and lead the charge. This is not leadership.

Ending the war on drugs starts with ending the prohibition of cannabis.

In 1972, The Shafer Commission recommended to Richard Nixon to legalize and tax the usage of cannabis. Nixon ignored this recommendation in order to score political points and criminalize members of our society, especially those in minority communities. This has led to the arrest of over 15 million people since 1972. We spend billions of tax payer dollars criminalizing and jailing people in possession of small amounts of weed. We need to focus our law enforcement efforts on actual dangerous criminals.

“... Therefore, the Commission recommends ... [that the] possession of marijuana for personal use no longer be an offense, [and that the] casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration, no longer be an offense.”
- Shafer Commission, 1972

Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug right next to heroin. Being a Schedule I drug is supposed to mean that the “drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.” However, unlike alcohol and tobacco, cannabis is not addicting and it is impossible to overdoes by using it. In addition to being much safer to use, cannabis has a large amount of medicinal benefits. U.S. Patent 6630507 notes that cannabis can offer “relief for those who suffer from cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, insomnia, and depression.” It is a less expensive, more natural, and safer medical alternative to some addictive and expensive pharmaceutical medications. Unlike opioid painkillers, you cannot overdose using cannabis in any form. We can find relief for those who suffer from many illnesses now, imagine how many benefits we could find if it was legal to research. 

Think about our veterans with PTSD and other issues brought on by defending our nation. Think about the medical relief that we could be providing, but currently are prohibiting them from using. Please watch and listen to this Vietnam veteran’s testimony before the Veterans Committee on July 10, 2014 regarding the benefits of patient access to medicinal cannabis. I think of how much we can still do for those veterans and civilians in our state who cannot find a cure or even relief for their medical issues.

Texans are proud of our ability to live our lives the way we want, without much interference from the government. Why is it so different when it comes to cannabis? According to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, 83% of Texans say they support legalizing cannabis for some use and 53% would allow possession for any use. With the ability to tax legal cannabis sales, the Texas would be able to raise approximately ~$347M in sales tax each year. By regulating the use of cannabis, we would decrease the access minors have of the drug. By creating a legal market in Texas, dangerous cartels and drug traffickers will lose billions of dollars and thousands of customers. This will lower the amount of drug related deaths both here in Texas and in our neighboring country of Mexico.

Prohibition did not work for alcohol in the 1920s and it has not worked for cannabis. We must regulate and tax this natural medicinal and recreational substance.

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