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The Conservative Case for Legalization

While drug policy reform has often been categorized as an issue largely backed by the political left, drug legalization and regulation is a matter of public importance that spans across political lines. In fact, many of the arguments for legalization and regulation are a natural fit for the conservative platform.

Narco-terrorism is fueled by drug prohibition.

The most common criminal activity for terrorist organizations is to be involved in is the illegal drug trade.[i] Drug cartels use the highly profitable illicit drug market to fund terrorist activity. Regulating drugs would take money and power away from these dangerous organizations.

Cost to taxpayers.

In 2013, the Obama administration requested $25.6 billion in federal spending to be allocated to continued drug war policies – including $15 billion on law enforcement, interdiction and international efforts. The Drug Policy Alliance estimates that when you combine state and local spending on everything from drug-related arrests to prison, spending totals at least $51 billion per year[ii]. Over four decades of the drug war, American taxpayers have spent more than a trillion dollars on prohibition.

We need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts.

The war on drugs has heavily influenced the way the criminal justice system functions. Forfeiture laws have been enacted to allow police departments to keep a significant portion of the drug-related assets acquired via seizure, and drug arrests are incentivized to the point where police departments view meeting drug arrest quotas as a budgetary necessity. This reliance on – and drive toward – nonviolent drug arrests perpetuates a criminal justice system in which solving violent crimes and developing crime-prevention strategies are not prioritized appropriately.  400,000 rape kits in the U.S. haven’t been tested (as far back as 1970), and when victims are able to follow up with their case and obtain DNA evidence years later, the statute of limitation often prevents them from pressing charges.

Drug prohibition risks law enforcement lives

Police officers are put in danger during drug raids, undercover operations and during routine street patrols every day. Officers are injured, accidentally killed, and even brutally murdered while enforcing the failed policy of prohibition. Prohibition created the violent gangs and cartels that commit these acts against officers and innocent civilians who happen to be nearby.

Wasteful spending

According to a 2010 study produced by the Cato Institute, legalizing and regulating all currently illicit drugs could save the government approximately $41.3 billion in law enforcement costs and generate an estimated $46.7 billion in tax revenue. Marijuana alone would account for $8.7 billion of the savings and another $8.7 billion in tax revenue.[iii]

[gun owners notice this]

The drug war increases the size and power of government.

Prohibition fuels a never-ending expansion of the DEA and other drug enforcement entities. As enforcement efforts expand, citizens see their rights decrease with tactics such as civil asset forfeiture, crackdowns on gun ownership, and raids (often targeting and injuring innocent civilians).

Lost wages and economic growth.

Incarceration costs the taxpayers significantly, but the economy further suffers because there are fewer employers, employees, and consumers to promote economic growth. Businesses suffer when such a high percentage of the population has no money to spend or a job to get money in the first place. Jobs and educational opportunities are also further limited for those with drug convictions, so employment opportunities after incarceration are limited, too.

Impact on families.

Families are torn apart due to incarceration. Children are also taken from loving homes because of small amounts of drugs or medical marijuana found in the home. Children who have a parent in prison often suffer from feelings of detachment, trauma, a lack of positive role models, and behavioral issues.

More information can be had a www.leap.cc (LEAP - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)

[i] Makarenko, Tamara, “The Crime Terror Continuum: Tracing the Interplay between Transnational Organised Crime and Terrorism”,Global Crime, vol. 6, no.1, 2004, p. 134
[ii] http://www.drugpolicy.org/wasted-tax-dollars
[iii] Miron, Jeffrey and Waldock, Katherine, “The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition,” 2010, p. 1

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Replies to This Discussion

The AzFMR regulation was a pretty open door.  This is FAR from carte blanch.  Is the law perfect, no.  But we will have legal marijuana, besides ours there are two others voting on legalized marijuana and 3 more states voting on medical marijuana.

As far as DUI, when I was an officer, the Breathalyzer was the size of a suitcase.  When you stopped and made and arrest, you did it by proving to yourself that that person was impaired.  Not by some 'legislated' amount, that at this time is not known.  Even NHTSA said the 'per se' laws a not right and shouldn't be applied to marijuana.

I completely understand your point.  I guess you didn't see the link to the NHTSA Feb, 2015 report that I posted.

I guess it won't hurt to put it here...

I think this shows what killing people on our roads and highways.  It's not marijuana or any other illegal drug.

I'm sure you'll make the right choice.

Oh Brother!!!  I will NOT vote yes. There are Conservative arguments in all forms of evil.  This is a moral choice.  

Yes it is a moral choice.  I can only think of the destruction we've done to our people  and social environment with prohibition. I have yet to find anyone who wants to revive the 18th Amendment.  Change out alcohol for marijuana and try and see the difference.  Also remember that it was a 'decriminalized' meaning that the general populace didn't do jail time.

A very good friend of mine that was an RN was diagnosed with Parkinson's.  She lost her drivers license, her job and was on over 12 medications.  She is down to less than half and now has returned to working and driving. This was done on Medical Marijuana.  If this were legal, Federally, we would see all kinds of research. And maybe some help with these neurological problems.  This will help move the government to handling this properly, not a band aid with the same problem occurring time after time.

I've seen this for my lifetime and it isn't getting any better, just worse. Things won't change unless we change them.

I personally would like to be able to throw my bio plastic bottle in my compost pile, not in the garbage.

Of course you have to go with your morals whatever the cost. :)

It's not just a moral choice, it's often a life or death choice.  The moral argument is secondary.  Slam into my daughter's car while you're high and morals have nothing to do with it.

I think this shows who's more likely to 'slam into' your daughters car.  Colorado attributes a DROP in fatalities since legalization of marijuana.  They say it's less people are drinking and more using marijuana.

You're being redundundant.  Ok, driving is one aspect.  How about the presence of THC in newborns.  Gee, I wonder if THC causes any damage in the brains of babies before they're born. 

This is NOT a one-aspect issue. 

And if marijuana is so great, why don't we all just stay all the time.  I find this argument among those pro-legalization.  They're life seems to revolve around the use of a substance which puts them in an altered state of mind.  What's wrong with being in one's "right mind" most of the time. 

I'm a physician who has in past years used an oral form of marijuana for my terminal cancer patients and it was very effective for relieving nausea and increasing appetite. There is no question more controlled research needs to be done to study the therapeutic effects of THC. But that's NOT what this issue is about.

There will be no loss of drug cartel activity because, for the first 18 months, the stuff will only be sold by those licensed to sell medical marijuana, so you know drug dealers on the street will have a field day selling it much cheaper. Also, don't forget about heroin, cocaine and meth.

Prop 205 gives people a statutory right to use marijuana. No one in Arizona has a statutory right to use tobacco or alcohol, but using marijuana will become a "right." And it will be like Herpes -- once they get it, it won't go away. We'll all be stuck with their "right."

People in Colorado have warned us. If we don't listen, that's our fault. I don't see an argument here. It's simple and straightforward. Anyone who votes YES on Prop 205 is in support of:

1 - creating a law that will never go away;

2 - allowing for the sale of marijuana candies, sodas, et al. near schools and boys' and girls' clubs;

3 - seeing more ER visits for marijuana intoxication;

4 - seeing children admitted to ICU's in comas because of accidental marijuana ingestions;

5 - seeing almost 50% newborns testing positive for marijuana;

6 - seeing an increase in marijuana usage among teenagers;

7 - seeing a higher high school drop-out rate; and

8 - watching Arizona's tourism suffer because people don't want to visit areas where marijuana is being used.

Thank you Doctor for your valuable insight and  input in this conversation. .

 I am shocked that so many readers of AFA are supporters of this bill. I just do not understand their reasoning unless they are users themselves.  If there is medical usage for marijuana then that needs to be the focus of any bill put forth to the voters, not reckless legal use that destroys families, and gives drug company's an enormous financial advantage.

If this bill passes I dare say it own't be long until we will see the tragic results like the reports coming out now from  those states that have passed the law already. Please vote NO ON PROP 205. 

You nailed it. 

Just last week a co-worker was fired for smelling like a "weed". His actions were complacent, inattentive, and he was stoned. How many of us would go down that path in a "right to work state"?? It's bad enough with cigarette smoke, but to smell like weed is plain STUPID

Thank you doctor for more misleading information.  The law can be modified with sufficient votes.

Prop 205 does not write in stone how it's to be regulated.

It creates a regulatory body called the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control.  That is paid for by the sale of marijuana, so no 'growing government', just added jobs. They decide how it's advertised and where it can be sold. 

Are we talking adults or kids?  Like all adults, many 'know' what they are doing and overdose on many things. Many are fatal. Marijuana has never been the direct cause of a death.

I know of no incidents where marijuana alone was the cause of a coma, please enlighten me.

If you go to the site at Colorado.gov, you will see that youth use has not increased from before legalization (2013 Medical) to after retail stores opened in 2014.  This is propaganda.  Go read it yourself.  If you can't find it, I'll post the a link.

I also do not know of any data that indicates that there is an increase in dropout rate.  Especially since most 'surveys' do no even include information about dropouts (as they don't go looking for them.)  I would like to know more.

Nevada has medical marijuana and anyone from any state can visit and purchase marijuana there for medical use.  The state loves tourism and this helps to support and encourage it.  Nevada also has legalization initiative on the ballot this year.  Thinking they don't come here is because it's legal?

More information -

Friday Fact Check


Special interests behind Prop 205 have all the answers but rarely do we get the facts. They're spending millions to make Arizonans believe that Prop 205 would be a cash cow for our schools. In an effort to provide the most accurate information regarding recreational marijuana, the No on Prop 205 campaign will issue a weekly fact-check of the dubious statements put forth by proponents of Prop 205.

“Because we don’t have regulations and control in place, the underground market makes it [drugs] available,”

—Carlos Alfaro, Deputy Campaign Manager for Yes on Prop 205

Watch the interview here

If regulation really does away with the black market, why then does report after report prove the opposite?

“Competing black market dealers have none of the costs of operating a lawful business and often access to product of similar quality. Marijuana advocates long suggested that legalization would be the key to wiping out the black market for marijuana, but almost a year and a half into the experiment, that hasn’t been the case.”

(See International Business Times, May 2015)

“No one knows exactly how much pot leaves Colorado. When illegal shipments are seized, it's often impossible to prove where the marijuana was grown. But court documents and interviews with law enforcement officials indicate well-organized traffickers are seeking refuge in Colorado's flourishing pot industry.” … “There's no question there's a lot more of this activity than there was two years ago," said Colorado's U.S. attorney, John Walsh.

(See Associated Press, January 2016)

“As Colorado is increasingly seen as the Napa Valley of cannabis, authorities say they are squaring off against a new breed of drug traffickers. They aren’t part of Mexican cartels, aren't wielding military-style rifles and many don’t even have prior criminal records. … They are also establishing a new front in the drug war — not the Rio Grande, but the Rocky Mountains.

They come from all over the United States and set up shop in Colorado to hide in plain sight in a state where it is legal to smoke, possess, and even have hundreds of plants in a home under some circumstances. They mask themselves in a world of permissive new pot laws while sneaking bulk loads of marijuana to states where it remains illegal.”

(See Houston Chronicle, October 2016)


Facts are the facts – the black market is thriving in Colorado despite its regulation and taxation. In fact, Colorado’s regulatory structure makes it easier for drug smugglers to hide in plain sight.

Learn the facts. Visit NoProp205.com for more info.


Paid for by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy in Opposition to Prop 205. 
Major funding by Insys Therapeutics Inc, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 
SAM Action Inc. (an out-of-state contributor), and Empire Southwest LLC. 






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