Weed: One solution, its legalization?
Last May, the Global Marijuana March gathered hundreds of persons in Paris. There were 150 000 in Buenos Aires for the same occasion. There is no escaping from this debate between partisans of decriminalization and detractors of legalization.
While arguments against legalizing are well-known (moral considerations, fear of an increase of the use of marijuana), arguments in its favor are not. Let’s go over them.
The different anti-marijuana campaigns lead by the government are expensive and inefficient. The French government spends €560 millions each year to set in a fruitless repression. It is fruitless because in spite of this spending, 1,2 million of people are regular consumers. France is even Europe’s third consumer in size after the Czech Republic and Spain.
Time has come to take the bull by the horns. A controlled legalization could be very profitable: a study lead by the Think Tank Terra Nova showed that being in charge of the marijuana sales would result in an income of €2 billion per year which represents, for instance, the total wages given to policemen every year or 1/9 of the Honduras’ GDP.
In short, it is a considerable amount of money, which could be invested in education, prevention, healthcare… The debate on legalizing marijuana cannot therefore be solved on social grounds only and economical elements should be closely examined especially in this time where France is lacking economic growth.
2- State Control
Detractors of legalization base their idea that drug leads to more drug on a 1944 study showing that today’s marijuana consumers are tomorrow’s heroin addicts. This theory has been proved wrong: Marijuana consumption does not lead to an increase in the use of more harmful drugs. Besides, bills all stand for an acute control of legalization, which would be based on two ideas.
First of all a decriminalization of marijuana consumption would only end governments’ expensive repression campaigns and its stigmatization. This would allow setting in help for youngsters thanks to free phone numbers to call or access to health care when today they are too scared to seek help after using.
Second, tbe aim would be to create a state monopoly like the one already existing on tobacco. The Government would then organize the sale through authorized sellers only, a maximum available quantity on the market and a strict control on production, circulation and sale. A part of the collected money could help improve the prevention and care system since it is very important that the negative effects caused by marijuana on health are not neglected: legalization is something people will benefit from also because it will make prevention possible and more efficient like it is for tobacco.
3- the fight against organized crime
History showed that repression policies never stopped anyone from using: the 1919 law forbidding alcohol in the US only encouraged the creation of speakeasies, bootlegging and lead to a growth of the black market. Forbidding a product has no effect on its demand, which will be satisfied through an illegal sale. Therefore, making marijuana illegal only causes a price increase and favors armed confrontations between criminal networks. In Marseille, the police found 11 dead bodies caused by gang fights since the beginning of the year. Legalization could avoid this through setting a strict control and might help preventing crime among youngsters.
Although they do not please everybody, arguments in favor of legalization are at least acknowledgeable. Where is France at when the state of Oregon just allowed the use of marijuana for entertainment? A bill was introduced in January but legalization seems very far away from the Parliament’s agenda. The fact that marijuana has become an issue of prime importance remains.