Thursday, March 26, 2009

Medicinal Marijuana Public Policy

Medical marijuana legalization has taken a front page position recently with the postponement of the sentencing of a Los Angeles man convicted of running a medical marijuana dispensary. The owner of the medical marijuana shop, Charles Lynch, was arrested at his Morro Bay, California shop in 2007 and was charged on 5 counts including a charge for selling medical marijuana to customers who were under the age of 21. Federal law forbids the sale of marijuana and other narcotics to minors under 21 years of age. The Federal court that was trying Lynch postponed the hearing until April 30th so that there can be clarification on the laws since Attorney General Eric Holder said that medical marijuana dispensaries should not be convicted under federal law if state and local laws were being adhered to.

There have been debates and arguments on the subject of marijuana for recreational and medical uses for decades after its prohibition in the early 20th century. There have been so many discussions that in Barack Obama's internet town hall meeting on March 25th, he was asked many questions regarding marijuana and the topic took over the spotlight of the internet question session.

My personal opinions on the subject are slightly liberal but there are capitalist ideals behind it. I believe that marijuana should be legalized but highly and strictly regulated and sold by the government. The government would open "marijuana shops" or "cafes" and have the marijuana sold there at highly taxed prices. Whoever that wishes to purchase marijuana for recreational use must be of a certain age and must apply and go through a strict process to obtain a license/card allowing the person to purchase recreational marijuana. The user must use the card to purchase the marijuana and they are allowed to purchase only a certain set amount per month. This way, the amount of "legal" marijuana that is out in the world would be monitored and there would be a great revenue for the government. The other parts of the cannabis plant can be used for other things as well such as paper or rope.

The Obama administration seems to be taking a less conservative stance on the legalization of marijuana. I am not sure how Obama feels about completely legalizing marijuana but there have been talks of the taxation idea given the state of the economy. I don't think that we should do the legalization and sale at a time when we are tight for money because it can't be thought of as a way for the government to make a few extra bucks. It needs to happen at a time when everything is going smoothly for the plan to be able to develop well.

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