It is a myth, that laws get changed by politely petitioning representatives, thinking that the representatives will champion a cause if they can see that it is the right thing to do. Marijuana laws are kept on the books because the proponents of prohibition work outside of the formal system. The proponents are organized crime, the pharmaceutical industry, lawyers, private prisons and others who benefit from the laws. The laws do absolutely nothing to reduce usage. The laws do maintain profit margins of the proponents as well as create business for them. The public gains nothing. It is less than helpful that groups like NORML waste so much time and effort focusing on ineffective representation based efforts.
I have studied arrest records in Texas and have discovered that far more than half of arrests for cannabis are what I call add on charges. Some kid gets a DWI for beer or gets arrested for shop lifting. The drug charges are applied because offenders commit other crimes and are dumb enough to have marijuana on them at the time. Getting busted at home is a complete rarity. Stoners are the biggest advocates of legalization but they are doing the most to keep it illegal. They get caught far more than necessary. Stoners are an unsympathetic lot and they need to stay out of the back seat of police cars. By smoking away from home and getting busted, they keep law enforcement focused on the issue. Make no mistake, fines for marijuana create a lot of revenue for municipalities and create fees for lawyers. The more crime there is the more reasons there are to put more funds into law enforcement. Drug arrests create a lot of revenue for proponents of prohibition. If there was a way to keep stoners out of sight, legalization would come a lot quicker. Taxpayers and medical users suffer from prohibition just as much as stoners do.
Human beings mostly copy one another and only deal in packaged ideas. That doesn’t get folks very far when trying to get laws repealed. Citizens are told things such as state referendums are not worthwhile and won’t get laws changed. While a statewide referendum might not work, certain types of referendums at the local would have a very high impact. City councils cannot repeal state laws. They can dictate which laws get priority for enforcement. Citizens at the municipal and county levels can pass referendums insisting that the police force give low priority to marijuana arrests and that resources be focused more on other crimes. There are countless laws all across the United States that never get enforced. Some of them are completely forgotten. Cannabis laws could become this type of law.
Another way is to make prosecution of the laws too expensive. Most marijuana charges are resolved with a plea bargain. Local pro-legalization groups could start picking a poster child case every month, provide free defense and take the case as far up the legal chain as possible, while publicizing the effort to the max the whole way. Instead of politely begging for help from from elected representatives, groups like NORML could educate the general public on jury nullification and encourage the practice. Despite what one might be told, there is absolutely nothing a judge can do to force a juror to vote to convict. Otherwise there would be no point in having a trial in front of a jury.
Citizens often complain about expensive laws that have no purpose but will never think outside the box to try to get anything changed. I am particularly offended by laws that stay on the books as social statements. For a law to be successful, a minimum of a plurality must be offended by the behavior a law is meant to prevent. Otherwise the law is impossible to enforce. This is the case with marijuana laws. The expense is staggering. Most who are waiting for these and other bad laws to repealed may be dead before that happens, unless they get more aggressive in fighting the laws.
There are those who will say, “We can’t legalize marijuana because children will have access to it?” As a retired teacher I can say with complete confidence, any child can get marijuana anytime he wants it as it is. The marijuana laws prevent nothing but cost communities a fortune.