Jeff Irwin must be my favorite Democrat in Michigan Politics. I would buy his baseball card if I was a kid. I have copied the following to reblog from his website. Following the brief article, I will comment on the gateway drug argument.
Irwin introduces Bill to Legalize, Tax Marijuana
LANSING – State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) introduced legislation today to legalize marijuana in Michigan for adults 21 years and older. House Bill 4877 was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and creates a system of licensed cultivators and retailers while protecting local governments’ ability to ban or zone appropriately for marijuana-related businesses.
“My bill builds on the practices modeled by Colorado, regulating marijuana much like alcohol,” Rep. Irwin said. “This bill provides a path for marijuana to come out of the black market, making our communities safer.”
In light of recent ballot proposals and the nationwide movement towards reform, the conversation about marijuana legalization is heating up in the Legislature.
“Prohibition has been a colossal failure,” Irwin continued. “It costs us hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and it doesn’t work. Instead it increases crime and fuels violence. It’s time for Michigan stop wasting taxpayer dollars on prohibition and regulate marijuana. This will give us greater control over the product, take business away from criminals and refocus police resources on the most dangerous crimes.”
Under Irwin’s proposal, individuals could grow a small number of their own plants, but only licensed establishments that meet security and product safety standards could sell marijuana. Also, this bill would give communities the authority to ban or zone appropriately for marijuana sales or cultivation.
“Let’s give communities the tools to regulate appropriately and make sure at a state level that consumers are protected by ensuring reputable sales and standards for labeling,” Irwin said.
HB 4877 also imposes a tax on marijuana sales. The proposal would charge a 5 percent excise tax on the wholesale market with a 1 percent per year escalation. In five years, the excise tax would freeze at 10 percent. The revenue from this excise tax is allocated so that 40 percent would go to roads, 40 percent to early childhood education and 20 percent to substance abuse treatment programs. Consumers would also pay a 6 percent sales tax at point of sale. Based on a comparison with Colorado, Michigan could expect to see about $100 million in new revenue each year.
A poll by the Glengariff group puts Michiganders support for legalizing and taxing marijuana at 56 percent, and opposition at 36 percent.
“I hope that my colleagues will join me and the majority of our constituents to support taking the marijuana trade out of the hands of criminals,” stated Irwin. “In the open, we can do a better job of protecting consumers, keeping marijuana away from kids, and taking profits away from the criminal underground.”
As criminalized, Marijuana is indeed the gateway drug, taking people right into the black market world where the toxic and super-addictive drugs are sold, and organized crime tightens its stranglehold on the American people. One half the proceeds of the drug cartels have come from the frankly stupid and unconstitutional attempt to criminalize what is not a crime, and prohibit something that is rarely harmful in any way. So Marijuana, as criminalized, is ironically the gateway drug, or rather, Marijuana prohibition is the gateway prohibition. The issue proves to be surprisingly fundamental both in theory and in practice: In America, where no one’s rights are being violated, it is very difficult to legislate. Natural right, in one sense, becomes apparent on this question, as the prohibition is the gateway to the violation of so many articles of the Bill of Rights that one cannot keep track. As with tax laws and obligations no one can fulfill, a vast segment of the non-criminal population is disenfranchised, and comes under the arbitrary power of the executive branches. Promiscuity is the gateway to prostitution, and these things to the spread of AIDS. But the attempt to regulate voluntary promiscuity is an obvious joke. Those regulating owe their vey existence to such natural matters. This leads to the jokes about the unmentionable things one now is obliged not to speak against, while it remains illegal to grow one’s own weed and smoke it.
But Marijuana is different. Government money has funded a campaign of arguments and doctored studies to come up with these ingenious theories like the gateway drug theory, to criminalize what is not in itself a crime. Against this, groups like NORML and writers like Jack Herrer have, with their own efforts, attempted to balance the argument. The extent to which congress voted in 1937 to prohibit Marijuana on the basis of false information may amount to a violation of due process. The AMA would not then support the prohibition because there never was a medical reason for the prohibition.
Jeff Irwin is right about the reason legalization has become a necessity: organized crime. We must counter what has been done to our people by the Heroin, Cocaine and Meth, and the first way to do this is to stop paving the way up the front steps of these dealers with a stupid and unconstitutional prohibition.