Opponents of decriminalizing cannabis for personal use warn that making the substance legal would lead to a society with rampant potheaderry. DUIs, secondhand wacky-tobacky smoke in public places, widespread availability to children, reduced worker productivity — you know all the arguments.
But the keep-weed-illegal lobby never devotes much — if any — attention to the role towns, cities, and counties play in regulating weed in the states where voters have made small amounts of cannabis possession/use legit.
For example, in Alaska, local governments “can vote to ban [marijuana] businesses, and voter initiatives can take the question back to the ballot.” On October 3rd, “the city of Fairbanks, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough” will vote on whether “stores, grows, manufacturing facilities and testing labs” can continue to operate.
A fair number of Oregon cities and counties have chosen to “ban legal marijuana markets.” In many of the Beaver State’s rural jurisdictions, “marijuana remains shunned by the majority and is seen as something that shouldn’t be given any official stamp of approval.”
Big cities have concerns, too. Earlier this summer, in California, “the Fresno City Council voted 4-3 to impose heavy restrictions on cannabis cultivation and move forward with a ban on marijuana dispensaries, deliveries and public use.”
The best case for legalization was offered (although not specifically) by Ronald Reagan: “Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.”
But there are solid policy arguments behind the movement to permit cannabis for personal use. Among the strongest are the local-control options available for communities that might not be comfortable with unrestricted research, cultivation, processing, sales, and use.
With marijuana easy to get and relatively cheap just about everywhere, the drug is essentially legal now. That’s why so many on the left, center, and right support legalization. New Mexico, where the economy is weak and tax revenue stagnant, remains fertile ground for a reform that would both boost fiscal health and spur job creation.