End the Failed War on Drugs

For decades, the Unites States government has been waging the 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 pay for the enforcement of these laws. This so-called war has instigated 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.

Instead of using our tax dollars to arrest citizens and put them in profit driven private prisons we should be funding mental health and rehabilitation facilities. As the opioid epidemic affects an increasing portion of the nation, lawmakers are starting to view drug use and drug 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. It took them too long. Instead of criminalizing our neighbors and friends for their addictions we should provide them with the help they need.

There are many drugs, like opioids, that are initially prescribed with good intent for medical use. But after that prescription runs out, sometimes our friends and family are left with an addiction through no fault of their own. Luckily, we are gaining non-addictive alternatives throughout our country state by state. However, at the national level cannabis is currently criminal and is classified as a Schedule I drug right next to heroine. 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, not only is cannabis less dangerous than many legal drugs on the market, like alcohol and tobacco, cannabis has a large amount of medicinal purposes. 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.

Medical uses continue to increase even though it is still illegal at the federal level. We should be continually researching the growing benefits of this substance for medicinal purposes. We may be able to find better forms of relief for those who suffer from cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, insomnia, and depression. Think about our veterans with PTSD and a myriad of other issues. 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 cannabis sales, 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 to the drug and provide purity standards for informed adult consumers. By creating a legal market in Texas, dangerous cartels and drug traffickers will lose millions of dollars and thousands of customers in Texas. This will lower the amount of drug activity related deaths both here in Texas and in our neighboring country of Mexico.

Prohibition did not work for alcohol in the 1920s, it is not and is not working for cannabis. We must regulate and tax this natural medicinal substance.

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