Op-Ed

Stop waste of money, lives in criminalizing pot

No one has adequately answered the question as to why cannabis is illegal. Not how it is illegal. But, why is it illegal.

We know how it is illegal. We were lied to. We were sold a bill of goods. We were bamboozled. That is a long, interesting subject each should, of curiosity, research on their own.

Few believe that anyone should be incarcerated where the cannabis plant is involved. Most of my life we have expended tax dollars pursuing a ban on a plant. Wasted dollars. We have exponentially increased the power and scope of our criminal justice system by strapping it with issues concerning a plant, while destroying families and individual careers in its waste. Removing children from their home, due to a parent’s marijuana charge, is unconscionable.

Too many Kentuckians have had their lives stymied with criminal records as a result of nonviolent marijuana convictions. That is wrong. It is time to stop making criminals out of citizens due to outdated and ridiculous laws concerning cannabis.

Colorado’s recent passage of a responsible adult marijuana-use law has resulted in a 95 percent reduction in marijuana arrest rates and thereby unburdening the state’s criminal justice system.

Millions of dollars are forecast to be saved. The increase in tax revenue has been used for law enforcement programs, education concerns and drug rehabilitation.

The savings and revenue increases in Kentucky would be enough to offset needed raises for our state troopers, correction officers and parole officers, while alleviating job pressures caused by laws vilifying a plant. Maybe. Certainly there will be many other ideas relating to other economic advantages when, as in Colorado, Kentucky benefits from a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs, a decrease in crime rates and double digit percent growth rates in tourism.

We have allowed drug cartels mercenariness. That itself is enough to be opposed to prohibition. It is just so wrongheaded. This measure is an attempt to bring those illegalities to light and gain ground for freedom.

We have obliterated the individual’s rights of choice and self-determination by clinging blindly to the bamboozlement concerning the benign and beneficial cannabis plant.

Many choose to use marijuana as their opiates and analgesics. Who is to say the limits of freedom regarding the growing or consumption of a plant? Perhaps freedom got lost in contrived fear and panic. Those that choose cannabis as medicine need not be criminal for attending to their personal health.

Other states and other countries are moving ahead with propositions pertaining to responsible use and finding that the Hellscape movie scenarios, as predicted by the prohibitionists, have not materialized.

It is abundantly clear to me that cannabis, while being much less harmful, should be treated the same as alcohol in our state. That is why I filed the Cannabis Freedom Act on Dec. 11. The Cannabis Freedom Act is an outline on how to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older in Kentucky. It is time for this discussion in our commonwealth.

This is a commonsense proposal that moves Kentucky positively forward toward the inevitability of cannabis freedom.

Tell your representatives and senators in Frankfort to support the Cannabis Freedom Act, to help grow our economy and restore fairness to our justice system. You can leave a message on the Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181 or for citizens with hearing impairments at the TTY Message Line at (800) 896-0305. For additional information, go to the LRC website at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/.

Sen. Perry B. Clark, D-Louisville, represents the 37th District.

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