According to a report on Eyewitness News at 10 on Fox Providence, there is a commission led by senator Joshua Miller (Democrat representing Cranston) reviewing the benefits of decriminalizing and/or legalizing marijuana in the state of Rhode Island. Rhode Island is currently suffering from a massive deficit, and a new law on marijuana could save the state millions of dollars, while also creating tax revenue.
Monetary Reasons to Decriminalize Marijuana
With possession being a prosecutable offense that can result in jail time, decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana can save the government of Rhode Island millions of dollars. A cop who is arresting someone for possession of marijuana would still be on the street spending their time and tax dollars keeping the streets safe by responding to more important situations.
At the court level, costly lawyers representing the state and the person charged would be avoided. Judges would be able to see more cases a day, and the court system as a whole would be more efficient. Additionally those guilty of possession would not be incarcerated – freeing up space and saving money in a crowded penal system.
Monetary Reasons to Legalize Marijuana
The simplest reason to legalize marijuana is monetary. It could be bought and taxed in a grocery market or gas station akin to cigarettes. By imposing a “$35 sin tax” on each ounce of marijuana sold, the state would be able to raise millions of dollars of desperately needed funds.
Regulating Marijuana Could Lead to Safer Pot
If marijuana was legalized in full, there would certainly be regulations on any product sold in stores. This would create jobs as a whole industry would be formed. Mass production and competition would keep prices in check. If given the choice between buying from a dealer or at a grocery store where all the ingredients were listed, it would be a safe bet that most would choose the grocery store. Legalization of marijuana would also give medical companies researching alternative uses validation to seek their products being approved by the FDA.
Legalizing Marijuana Could Help Fight Organized Crime
If those who smoke pot decide to obtain marijuana legally, it could be a major blow to both organized crime in the states and drug cartels across borders.
Just this past year Massachusetts has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. If other states adopt similar policies, the money saved and earned could be put to use on more important things, such as schools and other public infrastructures.
Eyewitness News at 10 (November 18, 2008). WPRI Fox News Providence.