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On the Legalization of Marijuana

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The state of Washington recently legalized marijuana. The Washington State Liquor Control Board is responsible for implementing regulations by this December. Medbox has offered to help the state with implementation by installing inventory management systems and robotic dispensaries that comply with both present and future regulations.

The medicinal use of marijuana is already legal in a number of places. It is distributed by means of marijuana vending machines which require patients to scan their fingerprints to validate their online medical prescriptions. The manufacturer, Medbox is currently working on adapting this device for anticipated recreational pot users in the near future.

From a practical standpoint, Washington must define recreational use and provide reasonable quantity limits for consumers, as well as collect applicable state and federal taxes. If implemented with due care, legalization is potentially a huge revenue source for the state.

No matter what state law says, employers will have an important say in defining just what constitutes reasonable usage in the workplace. Standard urine tests can detect occasional marijuana usage within a two to seven day window. Regular marijuana users can be detected for up to a month, and heavy pot users can be detected for up to three months. Saliva tests detect marijuana usage up to one day, while hair tests can determine usage up to three months.

Municipalities will need to define legal usage of pot for a whole variety of critical services like police, fire, ambulance workers, emergency room personnel, air traffic controllers, pilots, subway conductors, taxis and the myriad of personal services in which the providers are responsible for the safety of the individual members they serve.

Surprisingly, pot is not a primary cause of highway fatalities. Although the states could consider requiring pot users to display a pot plant insignia on their license plates to provide information for other drivers and police. In addition, local criminal codes must be amended to reflect penalties for excessive usage of pot.

Public school teachers and other school employees are important strategic constituencies for whom clear regulations limiting pot usage (similar to those for alcohol, tobacco and firearms)  will also be needed. Politicians are still thinking about alternative ways to restrict guns in order to enhance the public safety.

Society is already on the road to implementing fully the legalization of pot for both medicinal and recreation purposes. Undoubtedly, the road will be bumpy, but the stakes are high; tax revenues from pot sales could be a huge boom for state tax collections everywhere. Only time will tell whether or not legalization can evolve in an orderly fashion while still protecting the public from harm.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.
  • will2

    hey “Dr” Joseph S Maresca. proofread your work before you publish. [personal attack deleted by comments editor]

  • How it appears is not the way it was submitted. I asked for the presentation to be
    corrected. i.e. politicians is spelled wrong and there is an extraneous word in an earlier paragraph. (toge- omit)

  • Baronius

    I wonder, is it accurate to talk about the road to legalization? It’s possible that it will be tried and fail. It’s also possible that some states will allow it and some won’t. The road analogy implies inevitability.

    I’m also surprised that this article didn’t consider the public costs. The revenue stream is direct, but there will be indirect costs – treatment facilities, lost productivity, likely increase in crime. Greater access to marijuana will lead to greater use among minors, with subsequent developmental problems. California de facto legalized pot, and while there are a lot of contributing factors to the state’s problems, it has some of the highest welfare costs, incarceration rates, and unemployment in the country.

  • clavos

    Actually, I think legalization will result in a reduction in crime, not an increase, Bar.

    CA’s higher incarceration etc. rates I think are more likely a result of CA’s long standing liberal bent than anything to do directly with pot. The state has long been light in punishment for minors and first offenders; this, it would seem, would lead to a high recidivism rate and account for the overall incarceration rate.

    But, in any case, removing the criminality from pot should reduce crime, not increase it.

  • Baronius’s comments epitomize the mindset that can’t see the plain fact that most crimes related to drugs are only crimes in the first place because drugs are criminalized.

    At the risk of beating a dead horse, the end of Prohibition stopped a major crime wave in its tracks and one can only imagine what sort of place the US would be today if federal law enforcement agencies hadn’t then pushed for the criminalization of most narcotics in order to keep themselves in business.

    To add to Clav’s observation, California also contains three of the largest urban conglomerations in the country and this likely also boosts rates of welfare usage, incarceration and unemployment.

  • Add to that the observation that California is far from being the only state working towards decriminalization. There’s also been a lot of resistance lately in parts of the state to the process of legalization.

  • Duncan20903

    How about making people who choose to enjoy cannabis a large green P hung from their necks? Mr. Hitler would be proud to call “Dr. Maresca” a colleague.

    I’ve got a better idea though. Why not emigrate to a country that treats its citizens like chattel? I’m sure there are many Countries with public policy more to “Dr.” Maresca’s taste.

    Sorry Dr. M, we’re simply not going to install such absurd and unneeded regulations. We’ve passed the tipping point. You need to reconcile yourself with the fact that people have figured out that prohibition is an utter failure, whether de facto or de jure.


  • Baronius

    I don’t have the stats on this, so take it with a grain of salt, but my understanding is that there are very few people with drug-only arrests/convictions. Most people who are serving time on drug charges were also convicted on other counts, or have prior non-drug-related records.

    Drug users are not good-idea machines. Do drugs turn you stupid or do stupid people turn to drugs? A little of both.

  • Zingzing

    And that’s why creative people have never been known to use drugs!

  • Baronius, I’d be interested to look at that stat in its historical context if it’s true. The police and courts have for some time regarded simple possession and/or use as not worth prosecuting in and of itself. So it’s something of a self-fulfilling prophecy that most folks with drug convictions also have records for other things.

  • I believe that we have to look at the regulations coming out of Washington State this December in order to be in a better position to judge the success of the effort. In addition, actual implementation will tell us quite a bit.

  • Baronius

    Zing, what’s that even supposed to mean? Creative people have been known to use heroin. Does that make it ok? Creative people have been known to try suicide. Is that good? Creative people aren’t necessarily sound decision-makers.

    But, there’ve also been a lot of creative people who didn’t try drugs, and a lot of uncreative people who have. So what does any of that have to do with the subject?

  • strayan

    “pot is not a primary cause of highway fatalities. Although the states could consider requiring pot users to display a pot plant insignia on their license plates to provide information for other drivers and police.”

    Why not just make them wear a yellow star?

  • primus

    Ah wants ta be a star-bellied Sneetch, Ah does. They got stars on thars.

  • At least the state of Washington will now have more money in the coffers to deal with all of the implementation issues arising from the legalization of pot. The implementation issues are well known for alcohol, tobacco and firearms. Washington state is now coming out with guidelines on pot usage. I’m waiting to see the details.

  • Baronius’ comments reveal he doesn’t know much about the issue

  • Baronius

    EB – I said as much. This issue isn’t a great passion for me. Could you provide some decent statistics?

  • Zingzing

    “Zing, what’s that even supposed to mean?”

    You said drugs users are not “good-idea machines,” yet drug users have had plenty of good ideas.

    “Creative people have been known to use heroin. Does that make it ok?”

    Not really.

    “Creative people have been known to try suicide. Is that good?”

    Sigh. Really?

    “Creative people aren’t necessarily sound decision-makers.”

    Nobody is. But that’s not what I responded to, is it?

    “So what does any of that have to do with the subject?”

    You were the one making dunderhead blanket statements about whole swaths of people based on something you clearly have no experience with. Seeing as how the whole idea of religion is probably a product of prehistorical drug use, however, I will concede that drug use can lead to bad ideas. But oodles of good ideas have come out of drug-addled brains as well. Take a minute to think about it.

  • There’s no need for statistics. You’ve obviously already made your mind up about drugs and didn’t use any to make your inaccurate comments, so why waste the time?

  • Baronius

    EB – The internet allows people to communicate with each other. Blogcritics is a site on the internet. On this site, people are able to discuss various topics interactively. This is the Politics section. We are on a thread within the Politics section, discussing drug policy. I assume that most participants on this thread have opinions about drug policy. It seems to me that if a person is advocating for a change in drug policy, he would have some data supporting his position.

    Having reviewed the thought processes that led me to ask for evidence on the subject of marijuana legalization on this particular thread, I’m stumped as to where I made a mistake. This leads me to the question: if you’re neither interested in opinion nor evidence nor argumentation, why are you here?

    (Note: I’ve never seen a “neither/nor/nor” construction, but I’m assuming that it’s valid.)

  • Whether or not drug users are “good idea machines” is not the point.

    Prohibition of alcohol in the 20’s came about when someone’s “idea machine” was having a bad day, apparently. Prohibition was the midwife at the birth of the Mafia. History repeats itself today in Mexico, where innocents by the tens of thousands have been caught in the crossfire in the War against Drugs and killed.

    Those with a history of addiction who are now living successful lives are doing so because they are keeping certain substances off the menu, passionately and continuously, in a very focused way. And those who care about them support them in this focused avoidance. That passion sometimes come to the fore in discussions like these, and in some ways, that is a good thing.

    However, the legality of the offending drug does not influence the need for that commitment to avoidance: an addict will get what he physically needs, whatever risks are involved. It’s just that under a ban, there are demonstrably more risks to society at large when it is the job of criminals and a huge cadre of corrupt law enforcement personnel to grease the skids of distribution.

  • Zingzing

    On the whole, drugs probably have a negative effect on the world. The real question, especially concerning marijuana, is whether the illegality of the drug has a larger negative effect than the legal availability of that drug would present. In the case of marijuana, we’ve got a few tests running at the moment to see how it all balances out.

  • The success or failure of the Washington State effort will provide better evidence to make a more intelligent legalization decision in other areas of the United States.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Is legalization of marijuana a good thing? If we didn’t have such an idiotic monstrosity as the War on Drugs going on, resulting in the murder of thousands every year, and resulting in ruining the futures of tens of thousands every year due to becoming lifelong felons, I’d say that no, marijuana legalization may or may not a good thing, that there’s no way to know yet, that there’s plenty of evidence to support either view. Personally, if our laws stressed treatment and help and reserved incarceration for violent offenders, life would be better and we wouldn’t be the world’s preeminent prison state today.

    BUT we do have that War on Drugs. We ARE the world’s preeminent prison state today. People are getting killed, people are having their futures ruined because of draconian laws (thanks for nothing, conservatives!). Because of what the War on Drugs has done to two generations of people and their families, I say YES, legalization of marijuana is a very, very good thing.

    Now where did I put those Doritos….

  • Baronius

    That’s the thing – I haven’t been able to find any hard numbers about these convicts who haven’t done anything other than drug crimes. I keep hearing about them, but this being the internet, facts can get made up pretty easily. Can someone back them up?

    And Glenn, your blaming of conservatives would carry more weight if you used it more sparingly, or if drug policies were substantially different under D and R congresses, D and R administrations.

  • Zingzing

    Baronius, most people don’t go to prison for simple possession, which I assume is what you’re talking about, as people do go to prison for drug offenses of the distribution variety. But possession can make you break parole, or it can be used to make you a multiple offender, or it can be used in those “three strikes” laws.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Zing, the point Baronius is making, if I read him correctly, is that it’s rare for someone to have a criminal record only for drug use offences, and that this supports the anti-decriminalization argument that drugs cause crime.

    I’m doubtful that there is any hard data of the kind he’s talking about, for the simple reason that the counterargument you and I are making requires navigating a logical blind spot. And because it is a blind spot, many people, including people who gather crime statistics, don’t even realize it’s there.

    This blind spot is, of course, that drugs go hand-in-hand with crime because they are criminalized.

    This simple truth is so obvious to those who’ve grasped it that it can seem incredible that others don’t get it. A bit like those magic eye pictures that were a fad back in the 90s. (I never was able to see those.) And like magic eye, you can show it to people endlessly and some of them will never see it, no matter how clear the explanation of how it works.

    I’m not saying that Baronius is one of those. Just offering an explanation of why this is difficult to back up statistically.

  • Would legalization bring down the price of pot on the streets; such that, people would not have to commit crimes to be able to afford the substance in the first place? Soon enough, we’ll know the answer to this and related questions when Washington provides guidance.

  • Baronius

    I get that connection, Dread. But I also know that I’ve never met anyone who stole a parking meter because he thought it’d be funny to have one in his living room, and wasn’t high.

    Take gmabling as an example. When it was illegal, some people got caught up into crime because of it. Some, because it was illegal, but some because it’s a destructive action. It turns out that legal gmabling leads to credit card fraud, too, because gmabling puts people into a state where they make bad decisions.

    Take a different example: huffing paint fumes. We wouldn’t waste our time looking for cause-and-effect if someone who sniffs paint committed a crime. Whatever social stigma may be attached to paint sniffing probably isn’t the driving force behind the crime. It’s a substance that causes brain damage, so we make the reasonable assumption that his brain isn’t working right. Well, marijuana causes brain damage. Why should we assume that it’s the illegality of marijuana that’s leading to crime?

    Now, there is another complicating factor, the same one that was complicating our recent discussions about guns: mental illness. The fact is that a good number of drug users are self-medicating. And mental illness does lead to crime. There’s more of a chicken-and-egg problem in the question of drug use and mental illness than I think there is in the matter of drug use and crime.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    Yes, you’re right that my blame of conservatives would carry more weight if I used it more sparingly – but doggone it, there’s a heck of a lot to blame conservatives for!

    To be fair, I blame liberals for quite a bit, too – for instance, I hold liberals to blame for allowing our schools to become too lenient. I blame liberals for being too afraid of nuclear power. But when it comes to the War on Drugs, I blame liberals for not standing up to the conservatives when it was started, and all along the way…

    …and remember, for most of the War on Drugs, I was a conservative.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    You’re using the chicken-and-egg metaphor for drug use and mental illness. FYI, there’s a proven link between alcohol use and mental illness – I know this because the Foster child I’ve cared for for 14 years (he turned 18 last month) has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which has symptoms almost identical to Fetal Drug Syndrome (severe developmental delay, g-tube, trach, etc.) – and we cared for such a Foster child at the same time as our current Foster child.

    Okay? Alcohol is bad, too – and has resulted in many more American deaths than drug use ever has.

    I agree that meth and crack and PCP and the like should be illegal, but marijuana? Please.

  • Dr Dreadful

    But I also know that I’ve never met anyone who stole a parking meter because he thought it’d be funny to have one in his living room, and wasn’t high.

    I guess we should make secondary and higher education illegal, then, Baronius, because that’s exactly the sort of caper that students get up to, especially in the context of fraternities and sororities and their closest British equivalent, Rag Week.

    There was a legend at my high school about an incident that was supposed to have taken place about 15 years before my arrival. It seems there was a metalwork teacher who was a kit car enthusiast, and was building his dream car utilizing the school’s facilities and also, in the guise of a special project, its student body.

    The students waited until the project was complete except for painting. They then somehow managed to “borrow” the teacher’s shop keys and make copies using the casting foundry. Then, that weekend, they broke into the shop, dismantled the car, carried the pieces up to the roof of the school, carefully selected a prominent location that would be seen by everybody, reassembled the vehicle in perfect working order and spray-painted it.

    I imagine that was the merriest Monday morning my school had ever witnessed.

    Human beings, especially young exuberant ones, are inexhaustibly capable of stunts like that, and no alcohol or other drug is necessarily required.

  • Funny stories both of you! Anyway, it’s not ingestion that makes the most dangerous criminals associated with the illegality of drugs. That would be the folks in rival cartels, in turf wars, trying to control the best smuggling routes, for example. And the violence extends to law enforcement countering them in the War on Drugs, and to the tens of thousands of innocents who get caught in the crossfire.

    The tricky thing is, to eliminate the black market that motivates that violence, you’d have to decriminalize all drugs they trade in, including cocaine.

    People are looking to Portugal for statistics about how across-the-board drug decriminalization has worked to reduce drug use and prison population. Here’s an evaluation that seems fairly balanced.

    What is stressed in the article is that the decriminalization in Portugal stopped working as well as it had in the first six years (2001 – 2007.) As the country fell on hard economic times in 2007, there was a depletion for funding for the programs that were key to decriminalization’s success: resources that had been formerly devoted to prosecuting users that had been redirected to drug treatment programs and other social supports.

  • Regulations for the distribution of medical marijuana were part of the new Washington law, and none of us have been talking about medical marijuana on this thread.

    And overall, that should be the way it is. The legality of medical marijuana and the legality of recreational pot use should be different discussions. We don’t forbid the use of controlled substances used in psychiatry because they might be abused, accidentally or intentionally. We just control them.

    It’s adding insult to injury to people who had been counting on medical marijuana as a way to control nausea during chemo, for example, to be suspected of being potheads who are just looking for an excuse to get weed. None of us have been making that accusation here, but the national conversation on legalization of medical marijuana has veered that way sometimes.

  • At some point, a medical body like the AMA is going to take a position on the appropriate doses of marijuana for medicinal use. There will be articles in the New England Journal of
    Medicine, as well as other places. The American Psychiatric Association will probably weigh in on the issue also.

  • zingzing

    crossing “shenanigans” off of my list of things baronius knows something about. besides, stealing a parking meter takes a whole lot of determination… maybe some pcp or meth would make that possible, but i doubt marijuana would do the trick. bath salts? i dunno. we’re getting into strange territory here.

  • Recreational use limits are going to be set by the Washington State Alcohol Authority this December. I’m waiting patiently to see what they recommend. This will not change what employers require in the workplace as is the practice with alcohol and tobacco right now.For instance, many workplaces are smoke free.

  • clavos

    The students waited until the project was complete except for painting. They then somehow managed to “borrow” the teacher’s shop keys and make copies using the casting foundry. Then, that weekend, they broke into the shop, dismantled the car, carried the pieces up to the roof of the school, carefully selected a prominent location that would be seen by everybody, reassembled the vehicle in perfect working order and spray-painted it.

    Interesting. A nearly identical story has circulated here in the US for as long I can remember.

  • Yes, well, I did say it was a legend. 🙂 I wonder if the germ was a real incident or if it came purely from someone’s imagination?

  • clavos

    Doc, I tried to find it on Snopes, but it doesn’t turn up, so maybe there is at least some truth in there…

  • mr.marijuana

    fuc all you pot hating people it has many uses and those of you not able to comprehind that are stupid

  • Marijuana Philippines

    Can i post our very own Philippine Marijuana Community Forum.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    “Marijuana Philippines”

    I think that the legalization of marijuana there might detract from the problem of shabu (meth)…

    …and I’d just about require that the kamikaze bus drivers (especially those of the oxymoronically-named bus line “Safeway”) there drive stoned – at least when they crash, it’d be at a much lower speed than they drive now….

  • Marijuana India

    Lets Hope it will be legalized in the whole US so the whole world will follow. Including India.

    Indian Marijuana Community Forum