The Wyoming Justice Project supports the legalization of marijuana to adults. It should be illegal for juveniles to use, to drive under the influence of marijuana and to use it in public. The sale of marijuana should be regulated and taxed with the proceeds funding substance abuse treatment.
Approximately 400,000 people per year die from tobacco use and another 50,000 from alcohol poisoning. Yet, those products are legal. You cannot die from a marijuana overdose. Half of the nation has now legalized the use of medicinal marijuana while a handful of states have legalized the recreational use of the plant. Three of those states are Montana & Utah (medicinal only) and Colorado.
Unfortunately, there is limited research on marijuana. There are studies and people who claim it has legitimate medical benefits and is relatively unharmful. It can also be addictive and cause problems if abused.
Fear-based claims trying to lead us believe that legalization will cause massive problems have been debunked. The public health risk from marijuana use is substantially lower than it is for alcohol, cigarettes or other illicit drugs.
We are not here to claim marijuana is good for you or appropriate for anyone. However, there needs to be a thoughtful debate on the subject based on fact and rationale. Do marijuana laws do more harm than good?
Governments have limited resources for law enforcement, the criminal justice system and corrections. Would we rather law enforcement spend precious resources on marijuana dealers or methamphetamine dealers?
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. It must be reduced and government officials are now recognizing that. Do marijuana users belong in jail?
According to the ACLU, in 2010, 52% of all nationwide drug arrests were for marijuana. Between the years 2001 and 2010, 88% of all marijuana arrests were for simple possession. This number continues to hold true. In 2017, 90.8% of marijuana arrests were for possession. That amounted to approximately 600,000 arrests.
In fact, our governments arrest more people for marijuana than they do for all violent crimes. Almost two-thirds of those arrested on drug possession charges sit in jail while awaiting court appearances.
Wyoming is going to face huge hardships from reductions in state coal revenues. There is an urgent need to cut spending, bring more diversity to your economy and increase revenues. One solution is to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana. As of June of 2019, Colorado had brought in $1 billion in revenue from marijuana sales.
The State of Wyoming needs to stop wasting enforcement time and dollars on marijuana.