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Will Initiative 502 be the end of Marijuana “Prohibition”?

December 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Initiative 502, Marijuana

Initiative 502 Marijuana Prohibition

Will Initiative 502 be the end of Marijuana “Prohibition”?

Supporters of marijuana legalization rejoiced as Washington State became one of the first states in history to effectively end marijuana prohibition. Recreational use of marijuana is now legal for residents, nearly a century after the first state-level bans were enacted. Since the ban, millions of Americans have been arrested and billions of dollars have been spent trying to keep US citizens from growing, possessing, and selling pot. Proponents hope that initiative 502 will be the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition in the rest of the United States.

Will Initiative 502 be the end of Marijuana “Prohibition”? The Debate-Pros

Proponents of legalizing marijuana argue that the new legal status of marijuana will bring in revenue for the state, save tax payers money by not imprisoning people for possession of small amounts, and will cripple brutal Mexican drug cartels, who are estimated to lose several billion dollars in annual revenue. For some voters, the chance to strike a blow against Mexican drug cartels was the deciding factor. These cartels continue to get more violent and bold, with reports of torsos and decapitated heads surfacing every couple of weeks.

Whether or not legalization of marijuana will have a long term significant impact still remains to be seen. Some argue that the cartels will simply increase sale of other illegal narcotics or start their own legal grow operations to make up for the money they will be losing. Others think there will still be a market for inexpensive Mexican marijuana since legal pot will be taxed and likely far pricier. Still, the end of marijuana prohibition in Washington is sure to have substantial ramifications, at least in the short term, for the drug cartels, which is more than the “War on Drugs” has been able to accomplish in over 40 years.

Will Initiative 502 be the end of Marijuana “Prohibition”? The Debate-Cons

Some argue that marijuana is a “gateway” drug; that using it will eventually lead to using harder drugs like crack and heroin. Also, they argue, many young people do not try marijuana simply because it is illegal. Ending marijuana prohibition would make marijuana use more socially acceptable, and more people would use it and possible become addicted.

Another argument against the end of marijuana prohibition is that marijuana intoxication cannot be measured the same way alcohol intoxication is measured. There is no easy test, like the Breathalyzer, to determine whether or not a driver is impaired. Therefore, cops can arrest citizens for driving under the influence of marijuana based solely on an arbitrary, unscientific limit according to the DUI mandate in Initiative 503.

Finally, detractors argue that because marijuana is still a federally banned substance, the production and sale of marijuana could still cause someone to face federal criminal charges. So far, it is not clear how the federal government will proceed. In 2010, when California tried to pass a similar law, Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, loudly opposed the measure, saying in a letter that he would vigorously enforce federal law, not just against sellers and growers but even against users. Since the passing of Initiative 502, however, the Justice Department has declined to comment on how they will handle the legal disconnect.

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