The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How to feel good about legalizing, regulating, taxing

SoDakNORML will send this letter (or one quite similar) to every South Dakota legislator and every nominee on the November ballot for the legislature.

October 1, 2012

Hello Sen. Worldview;

SoDakNORML obtained some statistics from the South Dakota Unified Justice System. Our experience with UJS's public information folks was more than satisfactory, downright exemplary as a matter of fact.

Among the numbers, we were struck by these: 82,402 people have been charged with possession of "marijuana" since FY1999 began. That's a possession arrest every 90 minutes. Someone was convicted every 5.5 hours, 24/7/365, for 14 years. Go back 30 years and the numbers begin to lose meaning. "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic." (Stalin)

What has been accomplished by this carnage? "Marijuana" is more available in South Dakota, of better quality, and cheaper than it was 14 years ago.

There are about 824,000 people in So. Dak. One in every 200 of them is arrested every year for possession. How many people possess pot but are not arrested? I'd say it's in the area of 10 to 20 times the number who are charged with possession. That's between 38,000 and 76,000 South Dakotans. If that many people (5-9% of the population) are breaking the law, there is something wrong with the law. Does anyone want to make the argument that significantly more people DON'T "get away with" possession than are charged with it?

We don't know how much it costs to arrest someone for possession or distribution. We don't know how much is recovered in the form of fines and property forfeitures to offset that cost. If it costs more to arrest someone for doing something that doesn't hurt someone else than we, as taxpayers, get back, we should stop doing it. If we, as taxpayers, make money arresting people for doing something that doesn't hurt someone else, we should stop doing it.

Right now, marijuana possession is a game of chance. Mostly we gamble on the chance that something will NOT happen that gets us pulled over and searched when we're carrying a couple grams (most people have learned to take only what they need with them in the car). The fine and other expenses (car tow, lawyer) have become a "getting-caught" tax.

If the legislature wants to tax cannabis, it has the power to do so. It's likely that The State could net more money by doing whatever it has to do to allow people to legally traffic in the same substance they ALREADY traffic in illegally than it does by seizing cash, cars, cameras, casas and kids. The rest of us would feel a lot better about it, too, if we could just buy some weed from a retailer who has a sales tax license and knows how to grow good weed or knows someone who does.

It occurs to us that more damage is done in South Dakota every year by the laws Prohibiting cannabis than has been done by cannabis in its entire history of interaction with human beings.

Best regards,
Bob Newland                        For SoDakNORML

Jesse Grimm, Hot Springs, combat veteran
Dennis Bridenstine, Lead, paraplegic
E. J. GreyBuffalo, Sisseton, degenerative bone disease patient


Anonymous said...

Hi Bob,
It's a nice letter, but I don't see it doing much.
The average lawmaker has lobbyists from Police associations to big pharma repeating scary lies and offering big bribes... er, "campaign contributions".
Lawmakers can do math and the math is based on things like the Sturgis Rally this year. Two arrests totaling less than one ounce of pot yielded $9,000 cash and a Motorhome.
Probably a $20,000 "tax" for less than one ounce. They won't do what is "right" as almost all lawmakers are in Pierre for the money and power.
The only way to win the freedom to choose your own medical treatment, as I see it, is a class action lawsuit against SD by those affected.

Anonymous said...

Lawmakers are getting bribes "campaign contributions" every day to keep prohibition going.
They "taxed" two people $9,000 cash and a motorhome at the Rally this year for less than one ounce.
The lawmakers know they can't tax pot any where near that amount, so you can't tempt them with money.
We need a class action against SD by those harmed by prohibition.

larry kurtz said...

Follow the Money: ALEC and the prison industry.

chad sechsington said...

you're gonna go ahead and put in a quote from stalin? really?

i mean i understand the intent of it, but the subtle implication that the intended recipient of the letter is somehow similar to--at the very least--a stalin sympathizer is probably not the most effective way to change hearts & minds. just putting that out there.

then you're pretty much saying "we estimate there are much more people you haven't caught yet", as if it's a taunt.

also, for the love of all that's good and pure, please refrain from calling it "weed"; just stick with "cannabis".

i really, really don't like being this critical, but i can't help it. tell the proofreader they can't have bonghits until AFTER they do their job.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money.
Grass is illegal.
GM-corn is illegal.

The first causes essentially no harm through dozens of peer reviewed tests.

GM-corn allegedly causes cancers as found by dozens of peer reviewed tests.

Anonymous said...

Follow the money.
Grass is illegal.
GM-corn is legal.

The first causes essentially no harm through dozens of peer reviewed tests.

GM-corn allegedly causes cancers as found by dozens of peer reviewed tests.

Anonymous said...

Would the national chapter of NORML fund a lawsuit?
It seems a small State that is in effect a Debtor State, of limited monetary resources and dependent on the Federal Government, would be an easier target for overturning anti-cannabis laws on a Constitutional basis.
At the very least, another run at the Ballot Initiative with an injunction regarding the explanation by the Secretary of State.
Claims by him MUST be factual, that is only reasonable.

larry kurtz said...

I have been probing your archives, Bob, some cool shit in there: found this.