Last week Portland, ME voters passed a measure that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. The measure passed by a huge margin and studies now show that the majority of Americans are actually in favor of legalizing the drug and for good reason. Several recent articles have come out in support of the measure and explaining reasons why it is important.
Criminal defense lawyers see every day how honest hardworking people are negatively affected by accusations of drug crimes. A violation of marijuana possession in Maine will lead to a $200 to $400 fine and possession of a larger quantity or cultivation of the drug can result in a Class C or B charge.
Legalizing the use of pot not only allows police to focus on dangerous criminals and not waste time and effort enforcing what is only a civil crime in Maine anyway, it does a lot of good in other ways. For example, a recent opinion article in The Free Press explains how college students with federal student loans will lose their funding if they are convicted of a marijuana related offense. This means that a straight A, model college student who receives a fine for possession of a small amount of pot will no longer be eligible for federal loans. Even though this is only a civil offense in Maine, it still affects a student's loan status. For many, a onetime mistake could mean having to drop out of college. The article claims that decriminalizing marijuana use is one way to stop this from happening to students.
Another recent article by former presidential speech writer, Jon Lovett explains how marijuana should be legal all over the U.S. for various reasons, arguing:
Yes, marijuana should be legal and heavily regulated. This is obviously true. Unlike alcohol or tobacco, marijuana is not a leading factor in cancer, liver disease, domestic abuse or car accidents. It is also far less addictive than our legal drugs or prescription drugs like OxyContin or Percocet. And yet we arrest almost a million people every year simply for having this relatively benign substance in their pockets.
Lovett goes on to claim that it is expensive to enforce marijuana laws in the U.S. and how every year the federal, state and local governments spend $10 billion on marijuana enforcement. In addition, if pot was sold in the country legally, taxes could be collected on it earning the government up to an additional $10 billion dollars. The article explains how this money could be used to fix the budget deficit instead of taking measures like increasing the age of Medicare eligibility or cutting back on cancer and disease research.
Both these articles make great points about the pros of marijuana legalization. Even some people who do not intend on using marijuana are in favor of its legalization in belief that it will actually help the economy. The passing of Question 1 in Portland is a big step. Many are hopeful that this will lead the way to state wide legalization of pot in Maine.