In our election last Tuesday, Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana. Meaning carrying and smoking it in small amounts is now permitted in these states. We can’t help but wonder how this will affect the population of people prone to drug addiction?
Ironically, the legalization of this drug is due to its already overwhelming use by the population. Last year there were over 750,000 marijuana arrests in the United States and there were over 1.4 million people imprisoned for marijuana offences. However, the argument in the amount of arrests may not suit the amount of crime being done by marijuana users.
It is argued that marijuana effects are less harmful than those of most other recreational drugs and stimulants including alcohol and tobacco. However, it is the most common drug that people are arrested for possessing. U.S. marijuana policy is unique among American criminal laws in being enforced so widely and harshly, yet deemed unnecessary by such a substantial portion of the population.
You ask, “So how is this going to work?” In order for the Colorado and Washington attorneys generals to implement their legalization of marijuana they need to tell the federal government, “We will no longer enforce federal marijuana laws that conflict with our laws; but we will continue to enforce other federal laws regarding marijuana.” Since the Federal Government does not have the money or manpower to take marijuana enforcement over from the states, as they did not for alcohol enforcement during Prohibition, they may decide to leave well enough alone. Time will tell if marijuana addiction goes up or declines. Time will tell.