Only a few days ago, Senator Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in an attempt to legalize marijuana throughout the country and punish local communities that want nothing to do with this dangerous drug. This is the furthest reaching marijuana legalization attempt so far and marks another sad moment in our nation's embrace of a drug that will have generational consequences.
Let's face it our nation is facing a drug epidemic. Legalizing recreational marijuana will do nothing that Senator Booker expects. We heard many of the exact promises in 2012 when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. In the years since, Colorado has seen a rise in marijuana related traffic deaths, emergency room visits, and poison control calls. The marijuana black market has increased in Colorado, not diminished. And, numerous Colorado marijuana regulators are indicted for corruption.
Even back in 2012, we had been guaranteed funds from drug taxation would benefit our communities, especially schools. Dr. Harry Bull, the Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, among the largest school districts in the country, said, “So far, the one thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our colleges has been marijuana.” In the fiscal year 2016, marijuana tax earnings led to $156,701,018.
The complete tax revenue for Colorado was $13,327,123,798, making marijuana just 1.18 percent of the nation's total tax revenue. The expense of marijuana legalization in public awareness campaigns, health care therapy, addiction recovery, law enforcement, and preventative work is an unknown cost to date.Senator Booker said his reasons for legalizing marijuana would be to reduce “marijuana arrests occurring so much in our nation, targeting particular communities – poor communities, minority communities.”
It is a noble cause to seek to reduce incarceration rates among these communities but legalizing marijuana has had the reverse effect.According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, arrests in Colorado of black and Latino youth for marijuana possession have increased 58 percent and 29% respectively following legalization. This means that Black and Latino youth are being detained more for marijuana possession after it became legal.Furthermore, a huge majority of businesses in Colorado's dealing in marijuana are concentrated in areas of color. Leaders from these communities, a lot of whom originally voted to legalize recreational marijuana, frequently speak out about the negative impacts of those businesses.
Jeff Hunt's opinion in the USA Today is the following:
Senator Booker released his bill just a few days after the Washington Post reported on a study by the Review of Economic Studies that found “college students with access to recreational cannabis on average earn worse grades and fail classes at a higher rate.” Getting off marijuana especially helped lower performing students who were at risk of dropping out. Since legalizing marijuana, Colorado's youth marijuana use rate is the highest in the nation, 74% higher than the national average, according to the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Report. This is having terribly negative effects on the education of our youth.
If Senator Booker is interested in serving poor and minority communities, legalizing marijuana is one of the worst decisions. There is much work to be done to reduce incarceration and recidivism, but flooding communities with drugs will do nothing but exacerbate the problems.
The true impact of marijuana on our communities is just starting to be learned. The negative consequences of legalizing recreational marijuana will be felt for generations. I encourage Senator Booker to spend time with parents, educators, law enforcement, counselors, community leaders, pastors, and legislators before rushing to legalize marijuana nationally. We’ve seen the effects in our neighborhoods in Colorado, and this is nothing we wish upon the nation.
Article source: USA Today