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Students, former police officers argue for marijuana legalization at Libertarian conference

A common misconception about marijuana is that individual, recreational consumption is permissible, but widespread legalization would wreak havoc upon our society.

Several libertarians and other supporters of marijuana for recreational use were determined to break down that misconception at the International Students for Liberty Conference this weekend. If it were legalized they argue, recreational marijuana users wouldn’t serve jail time for something that maybe they wanted to try once or have done so many times that they know how to control themselves while they’re high.

Colorado and Washington state have already legalized pot for recreational use, and Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Rhode Island most likely to be the next states to ratify a legalization law.

Legalization is the ultimate goal for many libertarians, but 14 states, including California, Mississippi, Nebraska and New York, have decriminalized the recreational activity. This means that if cases of marijuana use are brought in front of a judge, then they will be tried as a civil action in a court, not as criminal cases. This would leave the plaintiff’s record clean for instances such as background checks from prospective employers.

If those states – and the rest of the United States – were to legalize cannabis use, then no criminal action would be taken against the citizen as long as that person was to partake within the legal parameters. Colorado and Washington laws have an age minimum of 21 years old, and Colorado allows six plants to be grown at home, said Rob Kampia, co-founder and executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project and a speaker at the Students for Liberty Conference.

According to Kampia, if a police officer arrests someone for driving under the influence of marijuana and takes them to the hospital to test their blood levels, then the hospital should only test for THC levels, not metabolite levels. People say, “marijuana stays in your blood for weeks,” but that’s not the intoxicating element.

“[The hospital] should test for THC in your system, the active ingredient,” Kampia said. “They should not for metabolites. Metabolites [is what] the THC converts into, the inactive molecules. They can stay in your system for weeks, or a month, month-and-a-half depending on how much you’re smoking or consuming.”

Legalization with regulation would positively affect other problems areas, like urban gang activity and illegal transports from Mexico and other hazardous nations, Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and former police officer, said at the conference.

LEAP is comprised of judges, former prosecutors, police officers (active and retired), federal agents, sheriffs, and active prison wardens who “provide a speakers bureau globally so that we can share our front-line experiences from working for this war on drugs,” Franklin said.

Franklin added the primary reason most Latin American citizens are coming to the U.S. is to traffic drugs for the profitability of the business. Urban gang members see the business side of it, as well and that is what primarily drives their lifestyle.

“Prohibition causes violence,” he said. “If we move away from prohibition into a model of regulation and control, we can start whittling away, tearing down this market, hence, the reason, the primary reason for these guns, these handguns, in our communities, and the manner in which they are used.”

If legalized, libertarians have given legitimate reasons why recreational marijuana, whether used responsibly or not, can give people back their lives, reduce illegal trafficking and regulate it as a taxable industry.


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