January 11th, 2012

Decriminalization’s Time Has Come, Folks

by Philip Baruth

Just so you know, Senator Joe Benning and I have co-sponsored a marijuana decriminalization bill this session. Benning, a Caledonia Republican, sees it as I do: we spend far too much money currently punishing people for a classic victimless crime. We’re hoping, among other hopes, to build on the good work of Burlington super-Representative Jason Lorber, who pushed a similar bill from the House side last year. Lorber’s estimate was that Vermont could save between $500,000 and a cool million per year by simply getting out of the business of processing and incarcerating marijuana users.

And it turns out the phrase “victimless crime” may apply as much to that user as to anyone else — a twenty-year study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that casual marijuana use produces no long-term impairment of lung function.

When taken together with the medical marijuana dispensary bill passed last year and now in the process of implementation, we may, at long last, be talking about a clear-eyed policy perspective on what can be, when handled properly and without hysteria, a fairly useful weed. More as details warrant, dude.