Paul Gilman On Legalizing Cannabis and an end to the violence of prohibition
I am for total legalization of cannabis, and an end to the violence of prohibition. In dealing with hard drugs we will replace the law enforcement paradigm with the paradigm of harm reduction. We must take the black market mark-ups out of the profit margin, and end the co-dependency of so-called “easy money” from the underground drug market on it’s illegality with legitimate economic activity that serves the community. Stop preying on the community. Ending prohibition would mean replacing narco-jobs with real jobs.)
Being a drug user is punishment enough; there is no need to incarcerate. When users get tired of being shunned by family, friends and employment, when users get tired of the havoc drug use plays on their bodies and minds, when users are ready to get their lives back in order, access to rehabilitation and the accompanying social services will be made easier. Currently, users are often forced into oppressive programs, falsely labeled as “rehabilitation” and “social services” based on fear and coercion – to appease probation or parole, or even to stay out of jail. These include Orwellian psycho-social counseling that violates the principles of the right not incriminate oneself to vagaries of the law, and exposes the user’s family and social circles to entanglements with the legal system, increasing the harm of drug addictions. Many poor women of color have had their children taken away from them when social services finds out that they smoked some cannabis. This must end. Ending prohibition is the solution. Giving up one’s addictions should be a voluntary process. ”Therapy/rehabilitation” based on coercion produces poor results, and often exacerbates the problem. When parents have drug problems, they should be treated in the same way as parents with alcohol problems.
The drug war is racist. The full brunt of life-destroying entanglements with law enforcement is inflicted mainly on communities of color. The disparity, in which blacks are ten times more likely to get arrested for cannabis in New York City than are whites can only be reversed by legalization.
It’s time to end the cliché of legalize and tax cannabis. Legalize but don’t tax cannabis. Taxing cannabis on a federal level will only give more money to the war machine, and increase the source of revenues that the bank bail-outers can tap into. On a local level, ending prohibition will be an addition of revenues by a subtraction of the costs of arrests, trials, and incarceration. After incarceration, there are all sorts of post incarceration programs, most coercive, others voluntary. We can skip all of the arrest-to-incarceration expenses and the follow-up coercive programs and go straight to voluntary programs, not only saving millions of tax payer dollars locally, billions nationally, but would even be able to give raises to workers in rehabilitation, mental health and related services. With savings, we can train healers, as opposed to training enforcers. This would be a shift in what is being done now – based on a sick paradigm of violence and coercion – to one of healing and nurturing and the bedrock of Green values – non-violence.
Legalize and don’t tax Hemp! Hemp for fuel and other biomass products can be encouraged to be grown in back yards and community supported agriculture, and even in community gardens. Not taxing hemp and finding buyers for the hemp will not only be a tax break for the middle class, but a source of income that can help to stimulate the economy.Paul Gilman