Should N.J. Mirror Colorado and Legalize Recreational Pot? [POLL]
I realize this is a rhetorical question, knowing full well it won’t happen in the near future; but you have to admit that Colorado’s having legalized marijuana for recreational use is probably the first step in a number of state following suit.
Yet we still seem to have a hang up over legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
Is it because we still have a “refer madness” mentality that dates back to the 40s?
Is it because we see the proliferation of drug use among our kids – drugs, by the way, that are far worse than pot?
Why then make alcohol so readily available? (Prohibition sure worked out well – didn’t it?)
Again, I realize that the day we see legal recreational marijuana use is, at the very least, a long way off.
But, were it put up to a vote by the people, how would you choose.
The nation's first recreational pot industry opened in Colorado on Wednesday, kicking off an experiment that will be followed closely around the world and one that activists hope will prove that legalization is a better alternative than the costly American-led drug war.
Business owners who threw their doors open for shoppers at 8 a.m. are looking for the fledgling industry to generate as much revenue as state officials hope it will.
At least 24 pot shops in eight towns opened, after increasing staff and inventory and hiring security.
Just as shops opened, the Denver police department tweeted, "Do you know the law?" and linked to city websites on state and local laws that include bans on public consumption, driving under the influence, taking marijuana out of state and giving pot to anyone under 21.
Skeptics worry the industry will make the drug more widely available to teens, even though legal sales are limited to adults over 21. They fear that the increased availability will lead to a rise in drug abuse and crime.
CBS Denver reports that even though recreational marijuana will be for legal sale starting Wednesday, employers can still restrict workers from using it and give drug tests.
Pot advocates, who had long pushed legalization as an alternative to the lengthy and costly global drug war, had argued it would generate revenue for state coffers and save money in locking up drug offenders.
Still, setting up regulations, taxation and oversight for a drug that's never been regulated before took some time.
Colorado set up an elaborate plant-tracking system to try to keep the drug away from the black market, and regulators set up packaging, labeling and testing requirements, along with potency limits for edible pot.
The U.S. Justice Department outlined an eight-point slate of priorities for pot regulation, requiring states to keep the drug away from minors, criminal cartels, federal property and other states in order to avoid a federal crackdown. Pot is still illegal under federal law.
There was no shortage of skeptics worried retail pot would endanger the public. A group of addiction counselors and physicians said they're seeing more marijuana addiction problems, especially in youths, and that wider pot availability will exacerbate the problem.
And that’s the eternal conundrum – how to keep it out of the hands of kids. Especially since they manage to get their hands on their parents’ prescription drugs – which themselves are readily available – along with their parents’ liquor.
But banning it outright has simply not worked – just like banning any intoxicant.
The answer might lie in setting aside a portion of whatever tax revenue legal pot might bring in and putting it into more drug education.