On 4/20, NPR Muses About Legalizing It

Today, in a rather hip nod to the date (4/20), NPR ran a speculative story that looks into a future two years after marijuana is legalized.  They spoke to a series of experts who could speak about the impact on the illegal drug trade, on the criminal justice system, on taxes and revenues, and on children.  Their conclusion?  It would be a mixed bag--mostly good for alleviating the pressure on prisons, good for medical users, a net wash for adult users, but bad for kids.  Their speculations:

Despite President Obama's reluctance to talk about it, the issue is gaining credibility.  In an amusing, non-scientific online poll NPR is running with the story, over 90% of listeners think ganja should be legalized.  (This isn't a Fox News crowd.) 

What do you think?

  • Anon (unverified)

    Of course it should be legal, but I don't want Democrats front and center pushing for it, because it's political poison for the party that suffers from "soft on crime" problems. In Oregon, the initiative process is probably the way to go.

    The worst thing about the marijuana legalization movement its embrace of stoner culture, which does not appeal to the broad public. Most people have smoked pot at some point in their life and know it's not terrible, so the movement should ditch the tie dye and put responsible citizens like Rick Steves front and center.

  • Abby NORML (unverified)

    Of course, if we had a parliamentary form of democracy, that's what you would use a splinter party for. Nice when a 5% issue can take 5% of the vote and get representation in the 55% party. Keeps people from having to exaggerate its importance, not that I think you can, here.

    It's about controlling behavior and Victorianism in society. Whether gay rights or legalization, wherever you slay that dragon will make every thing else more civil.

  • Idaho River Journeys (unverified)

    Rick Steves front and center.

    I want to see the Oregon Field Guide to local weed!

  • (Show?)

    Yeah, similar to the micro-brew and micro-distillery industries in Oregon, we could cultivate a micro-marijuana farm industry. Complete with cafes, etc.

    The key thing is that it would need to be regulated and taxed like alcohol and tobacco, and a lot of the new tax revenue would need to go for massive expansion of drug treatment and education programs.

    But if all that were done, I think it would be a net benefit overall for society, no question.

  • (Show?)

    Yes, if we want a stable democracy on our southern border (Mexico), we need to legalize marijuana in order to defund the drug cartels.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    And then we could grow HEMP! Hemp and weed need to be decoupled.

  • Stefan (unverified)

    Oregon is one state where legalization might have an appreciable economic impact. We're already famous for high-quality cannabis (much like California), but our much smaller population might mean an appreciable bump in state spending outlays per individual just based on the tax revenue per capita gained in this move. Cali's just too big for cannabis to be a cure-all; Oregon might have a shot at making this the kind of lifeblood industry that lumber harvestry used to be. Just my two cents.

  • Stefan (unverified)

    In other news, I'm apparently fond of the word "appreciable".

  • (Show?)

    I don't especially care what people do in their own homes, but I like the fact that I don't generally get pot smoke blown in my face walking down the street or wafting into my windows in the summer.

    Considering how much we've done to cut down on the nuisance factor with tobacco I'd hate to have to start all over again with marijuana smoke.

    As I understand it, DUI for marijuana is much more problematic than with alcohol as well since it lingers in the system long after most of its effects are spent. These issues need to be discussed in any discussion of legalization.

    On the other hand, legal and controlled pot would probably be harder for underage kids to get their hands on than is currently the case.

  • (Show?)

    Marijuana would be legal today, except that most legalization activists are too stoned to do the work required.

  • Abraham Lincoln (unverified)

    "Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."

  • mlw (unverified)

    Either legalize it or pass a responsible medical marijuana law. Even the biggest advocates of medical marijuana are seeking reform of the grower provisions because they are so widely abused by commercial pot growers who don't care anything about medicine. Realistically, legalization has to come from the federal level. Legalizing it at the state level just creates a lot of headaches and conflicts in the law without achieving either enforcement or real legalization.

  • StephanAndrewBrodheadForCongress (unverified)

    Pot makes people stupid. When they are busted they should not go to jail! They should work off their foolishness with copious community service along with drug tests for a year!

  • StephanAndrewBrodheadForCongress (unverified)

    Pot use for a cancer patient or like medical issue should be very legal. I think the feds would think differently if they had to go through a round of Chemo! thats it

  • Randy2 (unverified)

    Here's an interesting observation from a former police chief:


    I agree with his conclusion -- and perhaps our government will get over its paranoia and realize the real revenue benefit to society gained through legalization and taxation.

  • Peter McIntosh (unverified)

    Posted by: Kari Chisholm | Apr 20, 2009 9:02:30 PM

    Marijuana would be legal today, except that most legalization activists are too stoned to do the work required

    well...what IS that? Drool on us oh salivary glands of wisdom! What is NORML not doing that they should be?

    There used to be lots of good organizing events, like the annual at Coburg and the MM conferences at the Doubletree. The Puleeze State harassed both into non-existence. We're lazy like women in Iran that just should get off their asses and get the laws changed, right? It's not an overstatement.

    Legalize it, don't criticize it.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    "Marijuana would be legal today, except that most legalization activists are too stoned to do the work required."

    Really Kari, Seriously?

    I admit to being a bit slow sometimes at discerning the rhetorical inflection of some comments on the blogosphere. But it really didn't appear to me that you meant that humorously. If you did, I apologize for what follows. If not, I can only say... WOW.

    I'm a bit stunned by such a prejudicial and uniformed opinion so openly voiced by someone who calls himself a progressive. I mean, if someone had made a similar statement as to why, say, gay marriage isn't legal here yet, what would the reaction be? Everyone would go through the roof. And, cripes, don't dare sully the reputation of micro brew aficionados by trying to tax beer to help fund treatment, right? But I guess it's OK to paint all marijuana activists with the same broad, derogatorily stereotypical brush, huh?

    All pot smokers aren't unmotivated, unsuccessful morons, Kari. [See: billionaire George Soros, Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, political satirist Bill Maher, and actor/writer/director Seth Rogen to name just a few.] Millions of Americans smoke pot and lead normal lives.

    You really can't conceive of any other reasons why marijuana isn't legal yet? I don't have time to gather all the data for you (let me suggest a visit to the websites of NORML or the Marijuana Policy Project if you care to educate yourself), but one factor stands out and should be elementary to someone as politically savvy as you. Follow the money.

    According to the DEA, $10 BILLION was spent just last year to fight marijuana alone, in America's disastrous War on Drugs. A grass-roots movement such as marijuana legalization doesn't stand a chance against the powerful lobbyists of all those who clamor for a piece of that enormous pie.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    "Even the biggest advocates of medical marijuana are seeking reform of the grower provisions because they are so widely abused by commercial pot growers who don't care anything about medicine."

    Can you cite any evidence to back this up, please?

    "Pot makes people stupid."

    See my comments to Kari.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    Here's a couple of links to relevant pieces on Alternet's DrugReporter:

    Is It Possible the War on Pot Is on Its Last Legs?

    It states: Indeed, support for legalization is at an all-time high, and continues to grow. In 1969, just 12 percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana, the Holy Grail of cannabis advocates; this number had tripled by 2005, according to a Gallup poll. Barely three years later, another poll showed 44 percent of Americans support legalization.


    Pot vs. Booze: A Former Police Chief's Take by Norm Stamper, a prominent and outspoken member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) - another group of unproductive slacker legalization advocates. Stamper has an interesting, and well informed, take on how "the effects of these two drugs stack up against specific health and public safety factors."

  • wisefemme (unverified)

    Wow, no comments since 4/22, no answers from Kari after questions about his stupid comments??

    No, medical marijuana activists/providers in Oregon are not trying to over-regulate our MM growers, we are trying to increase our supplies for patients through I-28 for 2010. HOW IGNORANT ARE YOU, KARI?

    It's the Legislature this year being overwhelmed by law enforcement efforts to recriminalize medical marijuana patients & growers in Oregon (since that's where they get a ridiculous amount of funding), fortunately with a lot of medical marijuana patients speaking at hearings about these misguided bills they've been tabled. WISE UP, and stop putting out blatant misinformation here.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    The reason cannabis has not been decriminalized is the same reason we can't institute a reasonable single-payer health system: society's wasted resources are a special interest's cash flow. We have a political system that allows disproportionate influence to those who have money to put into the system. If someone's profits depend on public policy, it is good business to invest in lobbying, PR, and campaign contributions to maximize profit earning potential.

    If you want affordable healthcare for all or a sensible drug policy, work for campaign finance reform. Ditto for combating global warming, promoting sustainable energy, and host of other progressive issues.

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