Tuesday, November 30, 2021
HomeOpinionMerrick Garland Offers Conservative Argument For Federal Decriminalization Of Marijuana 

Merrick Garland Offers Conservative Argument For Federal Decriminalization Of Marijuana 

If Republicans hope to win majorities in the House and/or Senate, they need to realize that the majority of American voters are overwhelmingly in favor of legalization.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Fresh Toast. 

There are a number of reasons for legalizing marijuana, but in the current American debate, the most prominent argument is based on the fact that African Americans are disproportionately impacted by law enforcement. That is entirely understandable in the era of Black Lives Matter. 

SEE: Black Lives Matter Is Absolutely Necessary But Absolutely Not Sufficient  

However, in his Senate confirmation hearing, Judge Merrick Garland, who was officially sworn in as Attorney General on March 11, also pointed out that interfering with state marijuana laws is “not a useful use of limited resources.”   

SEE: Get Ready for a Pot-Friendly DOJ 

It is astonishing that even today we are still arresting half a million Americans annually for simple possession of marijuana. That is more than for all violent crimes combined. Is that the best use of finite criminal justice resources? Is that a Conservative value?   

SEE: Conservative Intellectual Wants To Keep Marijuana In The Black Market So “Problem Users” Won’t Be Such A Problem 

It creates major opportunities for graft and corruption and also undermines the respect for the law generally. Historically, the arguments for “states’ rights” have just been used to limit the rights of minorities, especially African Americans, but the medical marijuana movement and the marijuana reform movement generally have been overwhelmingly white, until very recently. “White privilege” only goes so far. 

Merrick Garland
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Under Trump’s Attorneys Generals, Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, the Department of Justice seemed intent on harassing the various businesses that were operating legally under state laws. Barr supposedly ordered DoJ attorneys to pursue antitrust enforcement against any mergers by marijuana companies.  Antitrust laws are supposed to protect the consumer, which is not exactly what one might expect in this context.  

SEE: Court rules the Trump administration policing panel broke the law — and must halt its work 

SEE: Did Marijuana Prohibition Cost Trump The Election? 

In the meantime, the two main forces driving federal reform are still racial disparities and the  States’ drive for badly needed tax revenues. Both have powerful constituencies. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) knows that New York, and especially New York City, badly need new tax revenues and many new jobs. He has promised that the Federal government will get out of the way.  And, of course, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is from California.  

Ironically, if Conservatives would show more support for legalization based on support for limited government, they might prevent high state sales taxes and overly complex regulations, and help end the black market, which everyone supposedly wants.  

The Conservative movement is badly split between pro- and anti-Trump factions. If the Republicans hope to win majorities in the House and/or Senate, they need to stop and look at where the majority of the American people are: overwhelmingly in favor of legalization.  

Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and author of What Are The Advantages Of CBD Massage? 

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