Any time a law is on the books it is important that we ask ourselves, if that law is preventing the behavior that the law makes illegal. It does not appear that marijuana laws in any state are reducing its usage. To the degree that laws are not effective deterrents the money and resources devoted to enforcement are wasted. Then, all such laws do is serve as a social statement as if legalizing cannabis would be the same as endorsing it as a substance. Is that little advantage enough to justify all of the expense of keeping the law on the books? That is a question society faces and one person cannot decide one way or another. I personally do not believe in passing laws as social statements. Clearly others do. Organized crime certainly benefits because the drug’s illegality guarantees super high profit margins.
When not even a plurality of a population is offended by the behavior a law is supposed to prevent it is close to impossible to enforce. Imagine if only half of the population was offended by murder, rape and theft. Crimes of those kinds occur but all citizens agree with the goals of the laws. Hardly a soul will call the police if he sees his neighbor smoking a joint. He would call the cops if his neighbor was committing on of those other crimes mentioned. There will always be trouble with a law if hardly anyone will help enforce it. That is the nature of marijuana laws.
As a former special education teacher I will say with complete confidence that pot messes up a kids mind and seriously prevents academic achievement. By making the right enquiries, I was able to determine a huge number of middle school students were high when they took the test to qualify for special education. Without being high a good number would have stayed in regular classes. Of course the folks who tested them were clueless. Out of a class of twenty special education students perhaps five would be high while at school. It was really hard to get the administration interested. Clearly, in my state, marijuana laws are completely useless for keeping the stuff out of the hands of young folk. I don’t think any of this would change if it was legal for adults over twentyone.
Pot was not legalized in Colorado or anywhere else because of voters petitioning government. Business interests push these things through. Citizens have no representation at all in the U.S. House and Senate. They don’t have enough to make a difference at the state level. Locally they can have an impact but its tough. It is not good to break laws but there is nothing illegal about doing legal things to make enforcement of a law more trouble than it is worth. The Norml organizations do silly things like go and talk to elected representative. Of course they get nowhere. Using the formal political process has a way of making participants feel good about themselves. People who get laws passed do so by working outside the formal system. People who want to get laws repealed have to do the same thing. For the rank and file, representation is a fantasy and expecting results is a waste of time.
To be successful, groups like Norml would have to do things like, regularly pick a poster child in the community, and try the case all the way through the court system. With donations organizations in a community could try ten cases a month or so and start educating the public about jury nullification. In each case lots of effort would need to go into publicity. Individual city councils could be petitioned to pass resolutions making marijuana laws to be given lowest priority where law enforcement resources are utilized. There is no need to break the law. There is nothing wrong with making a city or county spend mountains of money in order to get their way. That has been going on in our court system since the beginning. District attorneys offices are usually stretched to the limit financially as it is. But there is no way to get a law repealed by politely petitioning government. I don’t know of a case where that approach has ever worked.
The truth is a hard sell. Fantasy Free Economics gains readers one at a time. Major search engines simply do not list blogs which disagree with their political agenda. As long as folks share the link to this blog and others speaking out against the grain, the truth will at least trickle into the public consciousness.