Leaders weigh the pros and cons of marijuana legalization in Louisiana

Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 11:11am

Marijuana isn't a laughing matter, but it is big business.

According to "High Times" magazine more than 20 million pounds of marijuana is smoked in the state of Louisiana every year. It's estimated that if the government legalized it and taxed it, it could bring in billions of dollars to a state that has dealt with severe cuts to both higher education and healthcare over the last several years.

"With alcohol being legal - it's legal and being taxed – and that brings revenue to the state,” stated Libertarian Party representative Wes Benedict. “We should do the same thing with marijuana - legalize it and tax it."

However, not everyone feels the pros outweigh the cons. Some believe that if marijuana is legalized, it'll eventually lead to people to use harder drugs and commit crimes to support their habit.

"You run a risk when you legalize it,” said Pastor Charles Wallace. “You give access to a lot of people who may not be a ‘recreational use’ person that might not be able to handle it; they may graduate onto more hard drugs."

But Benedict argues that studies he's seen don't make that link. He also argues that most of the people who are locked up for marijuana use are non-violent offenders and therefore aren't a threat to society. He says letting them out of jail would save Louisiana more than $20,000 per inmate, which is big money when you consider that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the nation.

"Studies have shown that arresting and keeping people in jail for marijuana offenses costs as much as $10 billion," said Benedict.

Wallace argues that despite the possible economic benefits that may come from legalizing pot, the downside is much greater, “It may have those short term benefits. It may create jobs, businesses and revenue. But I think the long term effect of it is not worth it."
  

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According to "High Times" magazine more than 20 million pounds of marijuana is smoked in the state of Louisiana every year.
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That would mean every man, woman, and child in the state was consuming four pounds of marijuana every year. At a minimum cost of $100 per ounce, that's $6,400 per person per year. Do the children of Louisiana have unusually large allowances?

"...Some believe that if marijuana is legalized, it'll eventually lead to people to use harder drugs and commit crimes to support their habit..."

Are you kidding me? That's what is happening right now under prohibition! Through the popularity of marijuana drug dealers lure teens and unsuspecting persons to try harder drugs. Separating Marijuana from the harder drugs will reduce this exposure and thus their use. Nothing can be worse for our children safety and health than prohibition. Nothing.

"...But I think the long term effect of it is not worth it."

Anytime someone starts a sentence with "I think", you should take what they are saying with a grain of salt. After all, opinions do not need to be based on evidence or reality.

'"You run a risk when you legalize it,” said Pastor Charles Wallace. “You give access to a lot of people who may not be a ‘recreational use’ person that might not be able to handle it; they may graduate onto more hard drugs." ' The gateway argument is dead. Anyone who buys that garbage just isnt paying attention to reality. Even if right and there exists a 'gateway' property to marijuana, it most certainly applies to alcohol too, and no matter the number of laws passes, will be used anyway.

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