By Patrick Kabot
The issue of marijuana legalization is hotter now more than ever! Several states have passed bills allowing medicinal marijuana. Colorado and Washington have given tokers a full green light, and many of the states that have yet to reform their marijuana laws are in the process of doing so, even Florida. Activists in Florida have been working hard collecting signatures to get the issue of medicinal marijuana on the 2014 ballot. While the idea of this still troubles a few people, most people realize that we as a nation have been subjected to propaganda and are actually very much in favor of sensible marijuana laws!
By now, we all know that marijuana isn’t going to kill you, it’s not a “gateway drug” and that there are undisputable medicinal uses for it. What most fail to recognize however, is that so much crime thrives due to the illegality of marijuana. Marijuana prohibition came shortly after the end of alcohol prohibition, so the Al Capone’s and Gambino’s just switched their product. Cartels, drug dealers and street gangs make millions off of marijuana and in turn use that money to fund their supply of harder drugs. This also makes marijuana very accessible to minors, unlike alcohol, which has an age restriction and must be acquired through an authorized merchant. Colorado and Washington’s youth crime rates have dropped an astounding 20% since their decriminalization.
Here in Florida, we spend over $20,000 of taxpayer dollars annually to incarcerate one criminal. While keeping our streets and citizens safe should be a top priority, we have to analyze where the danger truly lies. A majority of rapists, murderers and pedophiles get away with violent crimes every year, while a marijuana user is arrested every thirty-seven seconds. It’s inconceivable to me that we waste thousands of our dollars, along with our law enforcement officers time going after a non-violent and victimless offender while the worst of the worst are walking freely. There is even an organization made up of law enforcement officers known as “LEAP”, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, who call for sensible marijuana policies for these very reasons.
I could go on about the amazing job growth that a hemp industry would produce, or the issues of a smaller government that keeps “big brother” out of people’s homes but we’ve all heard those before. The issues of our public safety, the availability to our youth and jailing finance methods are some of the most important and often overlooked. It’s time for us to end the reefer madness era while finding truth in the once jailed Peter Tosh’s famous words “Legalize it! Don’t criticize it!”.
Patrick Kabot is a longtime East Orlando resident, graduate of Timber Creek High School, and is currently enrolled at Valencia College studying Jazz Guitar Performance. In his spare time, Patrick enjoys making and performing music, hanging out with his dog Slash, and improving upon his musical skills.