Retail-ize It

Discussion
Jun 03, 2011
George Anderson

The drug war has been waged and the good guys have gotten their butts kicked. That’s the conclusion of a new report issued by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a 19-member panel of experts, including former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz, former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker and former presidents of Brazil, Columbia, and Mexico.

The Commission recommends that instead of spending billions annually to fight a losing war that nations:


  • End the criminalization, particularly for the large percentage of “people who use drugs but who do no harm to others”;
  • Legalize cannabis to “undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security” of those who use the drug;
  • Offer health and treatment services rather than jail time for addicts;
  • Provide more substantive education programs to keep individuals from using drugs in the first place.

The U.S. government responded negatively to the Commission’s recommendations.

“Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe,” Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesperson for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told The Huffington Post.

A Gallup poll taken last year found 46 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana while 50 percent oppose it. According to a blog on the Marijuana Policy Project site: “Gallup found that support for making marijuana legal was highest among liberals (72 percent), 18- to 29-year-olds (61 percent,) and people living in the West (58 percent). Majority support also exists among Democrats, independents, men, and moderates.”

A study done in 2005 by Jeffrey Miron, an economics professor at Harvard, concluded that regulating and taxing marijuana in a similar fashion to alcohol would generate governmental savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion a year. Dr. Miron’s research was supported by 530 economists, both conservative and liberal, who called for an end to the prohibition on the drug.

Discussion Question: Should the U.S. government legalize marijuana and regulate it for retail sale in a similar fashion to alcohol?

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17 Comments on "Retail-ize It"


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Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Boy, talk about a hot potato question…is the DEA monitoring our answers?

Forgetting about the ’60s for a minute (which is easy…if you were there you barely remember), it appears that marijuana has some legitimate medicinal value. Most especially for people taking chemotherapy. I had a friend who could not have made it through without it–she could not otherwise eat. Luckily for her, she lives in California.

I think we all know the “con” arguments…gateway drug, opens the door for de-criminalizing other drugs, kids getting access. And I think we all know the “war” has failed.

My opinion is this is going to continue to be a ‘states rights’ issue–and some states will legalize, while others do not. What that means for the DEA, I have no idea.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

We have gambling, alcohol, smoking, and drug addictions. All are a negative on society, but they exist all the same. Only illegal drugs are not regulated or taxed. It’s a billion dollar business with no controls other than by crime organizations.

One issue is the question of where you draw the line as to what is legal and what is not. If we legalize drugs, they should have the same rules as selling alcohol, who can purchase, and the penalties for driving under the influence.

Rick Moss
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Not to minimize the medical benefits, but I think we need to face this issue head on: people are going to indulge for recreational purposes and nothing is going to stop them. And how can we justify our current laws when alcohol is legal? We need to dispel with the myths and deal with reality, not for the sake of creating a retail opportunity (although, there’s nothing wrong with that), but because we’re wasting a lot of time and resources.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Let me start by saying I have never used marijuana. But a couple of years ago I did some research on how marijuana became an illegal drug. I also looked at research on the effects of marijuana compared to alcohol and smoking. Plain and simple, marijuana is safer than both regular cigarettes and alcohol. It is time the government took a realistic stand on marijuana.

Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 11 months ago
How ironic. This past weekend I toured the Woodford Reserve Distillery in Kentucky. The very informative tour included a discussion of Prohibition and the role Woodford played in Brown-Forman’s survival. Seems the only legal way to procure whiskey during Prohibition was with a doctor’s prescription for “medicinal purposes” something Woodford was authorized to do. The city of Chicago wrote prescriptions for 250,000 gallons a year. Sound like “medical marijuana” to anyone else? Equally interesting was the discussion of the role of organized crime and the small-scale illegal production of liquor propagated by Prohibition. While the Fed’s (“G-men” if you were on the wrong side of the line — and, yes, my family was) spent untold hours chasing mountain moonshiners and the future NASCAR drivers who ran the “white lightening,” the syndicates distributed millions of dollars of unbonded booze supplied by the Seagrams and the Kennedys. The underground supply system for the speakeasys in Chicago remains an engineering legend. The parallels are too obvious to deserve enumeration. Spending resources to apprehend, prosecute and incarcerate users is… Read more »
Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 11 months ago

The fact is that there is no country in the world where pot has been completely de-criminalized. There are many where possession of small amounts is legal although growing and distributing is illegal (a neat trick). There is also a broad range of approaches relative to levels of enforcement of existing laws (much like Manhattan).

This generation is going through the same experience of the 1930s, when one group of people decided to ban a lifestyle that others enjoyed and got the government to enact laws against it. The exact same thing ensued–criminals flourished, prisons filled with people who didn’t adhere, and the government (that would be taxpayers) lost a significant revenue stream and incurred huge expenses.

The fact is that pot is, IMHO, no worse and less damaging than alcohol. Ultimately, prohibition was (for good or bad) repealed. Given the changing demographics, my sense is that it is only a matter of time before the same happens to marijuana.

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
9 years 11 months ago

In the current political climate, this would not be possible and any major candidate promoting full legalization would be guaranteed a loss, particularly on a national level. But with the current movement toward decriminalizing marijuana and making it available for medical use at the state level, presumably we are moving in a direction where perhaps in 20 years or so the country can have a serious discussion about legalizing marijuana.

Mike Blackburn
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

“‘Drug addiction is a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated. Making drugs more available — as this report suggests — will make it harder to keep our communities healthy and safe,’ Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesperson for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told The Huffington Post.”

This quote highlights the key issue. Drug addiction is a disease. If society wants to take any action, it should be towards treating the disease and not by turning the patient into a criminal. It’s a health problem, not a criminal problem. Meanwhile, legalizing it will eliminate the criminal element–the distributors–redirect that money into legitimate retail channels, and not to mention the tax benefits.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Yes they should, and make the DUI laws the same for both. Tax it, and grow it here, as California could use the extra taxes for all of their social programs. People should not be in jail for smoking pot, and the drug traffic from Mexico will also go down, as we sell our own stuff.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Not only is alcohol and tobacco more dangerous than marijuana, but many prescription drugs are as well. Illegal drug laws are one of the great hypocrisies of this country.

The failure of the “war on drugs” is directly related to the fact that people want to indulge with them. If there was no demand, there would not be a war. And, be assured, it is not the lowest class of citizens who make this worthwhile for the producers. Illegal drugs are big business and made legal, they will still be big business, but maybe so many people would not die as collateral damage.

The hypocrisy continues as those in this country who want “government out of our lives” are the biggest supporters of government controlling how we live.

Dennis Serbu
Guest
Dennis Serbu
9 years 11 months ago

I was a police officer for over 10 years and saw the damage done by marijuana to families and communities. We have enough problems with DUI/alcohol without adding legal marijuana to the list of substances to abuse. Believe me when I say, someone stoned on grass can kill your wife, husband, son or daughter with an automobile just as efficiently as a drunk.

There is also a huge technological gap between distilling alcohol illegally and untaxed and growing marijuana illegally and untaxed. Any fool with a couple seeds, dirt and water can grow some weed. Were it legalized and “taxed,” how would you know the origin? There is a multi-billion dollar black market on untaxed cigarettes. Marijuana would be even worse as it will grow virtually anywhere.

Beware of unintended consequences.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

What an enlightened group of panel members who chose to comment on this topic. I can only echo their sentiments.

Larry Negrich
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

If marijuana is going to be regulated as a legal drug, and not as a consumer product such as an alcoholic beverage, then the legal marijuana industry should be compelled to follow the same processes and have the same responsibilities to their consumers as other drug companies. That means extensive testing by the FDA, disclosure of all potential side effects, legal responsibilities for the unforeseen side effects of their products, and distribution of product through regulated pharmacies, not marijuana dispensaries.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Not much to add, save perhaps for 2 observations:
– The discussion is moot as long as people (such as the ever-unuseful ONDCP) think use=abuse=”disease”;
– Aren’t we all tired of hearing that some group is filled with “experts,” when–such as is the case here–their (presumed) expertise has absolutely nothing to do with what they’re opining about?

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 11 months ago

Just say no to legalizing marijuana.

What really bothers me about this movement is that we always hear how marijuana doesn’t hurt anyone, that otherwise law abiding individuals shouldn’t be criminalized for using it and how legalizing it will help make more money. What I’d like to see is more research, articles and media coverage of the negative aspects of the marijuana use, e.g., its status as a gateway drug and how it impairs motor skills and judgment, leading to some awful results for both users and innocent others. And after spending decades and millions of dollars trying to get consumers to kick tobacco to the curb, why reverse course and make it easier for consumers to inhale–and increase overall medical costs?

If we’re going to have an honest debate about legalizing marijuana, then let’s do it by taking a hard look at not just the potential upside of legalization, but also the real downside.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
9 years 11 months ago

A couple additional comments re. my earlier post on this discussion. One, I should have said marijuana’s “potential status as a gateway drug.” I’m aware of that ongoing debate and various research that points in both directions, which leads me to believe more research should be done.

And re. the impact of legalizing marijuana on retailers, merchants already serve as gatekeepers for adult beverages and tobacco, especially those in the c-store and grocery segments. Adding marijuana only adds more unneeded regulations, headaches and other issues that most merchants could do without.

harold greene
Guest
harold greene
9 years 11 months ago

I agree with legalizing for a variety of reasons but would want laws against any and all public consumption and penalties so harsh that they push the bounds of reason for selling or giving it to minors.

It concerns me knowing the sizable profits that go to unknown bad guys and do not like the presumption that government protects you from all that can kill or harm you.

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