Civil Discourse Now

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Bill Groth: legalize, don't simply decriminalize---a counterpoint to his counterpoint to Matt Tully..

   Indianapolis attorney Bill Groth is excellent in his profession. He has been a guest on "Civil Discourse Now." I respect his opinions. I wish I had socialized with him enough to fairly say he is a friend.

   Bill posted on IndyVanguard a piece critical of the position taken by a writer for The Indianapolis Star. Bill said Matt Tully should not be ambivalent about decriminalization of pot.

   To de-criminalize marijuana would mean pot---Mary Jane, reefer, hooter---still would be illegal. The difference between decriminalization and the present system is punishment, for possession, only would be an infraction---the equivalent of a traffic ticket. That means the illicit market of production and sale of marijuana still would consist of criminal enterprises. A lot of the negatives of illegal hooter still would be present. 

   Bill gives the example of the Netherlands where---contrary to popular belief here and contrary to what Harold and Kumar thought before they were sidetracked to Guantanamo Bay---marijuana is not legal. Authorities there have been rational in their refusal to enforce silly laws.

   I do not believe authorities here would be so reluctant to enforce remaining laws against pot. With people out there who want to smoke the stuff, there will be a market. If there is a market, there will be a supply. Those people will be busted and serve time, clog our courts, etc.

   We should turn to our Sister State of Colorado. There, from initial limited numbers---and not "numbers" as a euphemism for marijuana cigarettes---observers estimate sales of cannabis sativa---hooter, reefer, ghanja---generate, according to a report from NBC News, tax revenues of a quarter million dollars per day. Those figures are incomplete, i.e., probably less than what the real numbers will be. That's close to $100 million per year in new tax revenue.

   So here's the deal: we eliminate overhead---not as many jails and prisons needed, police resources can be turned to other matters, money IS RAISED from new taxes, and people can puff away on a bong or pipe or joint.

   I disagree with Mr. Groth. Decriminalizatioon is a half-way measure. We should legalize pot. A position similar to my colleague's was taken by Harry Frey, then the anchor at Channel 10 News in Terre Haute, in 1976. Mr. Frey probably thought he was being liberal by calling for decriminalization of pot. To his credit, that position was progress in the midst of the "war on drugs." I was Student Body President at DePauw at the time. I asked for, and received, equal time to call for legalization of all drugs. That is what we must do, eventually, especially with the rise of privatized prisons.,       

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