November 30, 2016

Legalizing pot would benefit New Mexico

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Marijuana bud

At age 18, I attended a party where police found tiny amounts of marijuana. Without funds for an attorney, I accepted “deferred probation.” It has followed me my entire life.

I graduated from college, law, and graduate school, yet I had to endure a hearing to ascertain my fitness to practice. It also caused employment rejection.

Later as assistant county attorney in El Paso and elected district attorney in Willacy County, Texas, I routinely dismissed pot cases.

Prosecutor’s offices have limited budgets, yet mountains of cases. Dismissing marijuana allowed me to send more dangerous criminals to prison.

Even probation for pot was wasteful. Curfews and reporting requirements should be for prowlers and burglars, not pot smokers.

Steve Fischer is an attorney from Bent, NM.

Gov. Susana Martinez has to know this, however she seems to believe being against legalization will assist her political aspirations.

This problem persists, as 620,000 Americans were arrested for pot last year. Yes, illegal marijuana creates jobs for probation officers, prosecutors, bailiffs, chemists, clerical staff and many more; however taxpayers get soaked.

California and three other states legalized marijuana on Nov. 8. Voters were persuaded by the Colorado experience, where $2.4 billion in revenues and 17,000 jobs were created in legalization’s first year. This year’s final results will be far better.

The Denver Post polled “Would you repeal legalization?” The answer; “No” by a 51 percent to 36 percent margin.

A 2016 Gallup poll showed support for legalization has grown to 60 percent, and an Albuquerque Journal poll just last month had 61 percent in favor.

Colorado is booming. New Mexico is not. Unemployment is huge, and we have a budget crisis.

I visited a “pot shop” in the tiny border town of Antonito, Colo. I asked from where they get most of their customers. “New Mexico.”

We should fund our own economy; not theirs.

The old “Reefer Madness” arguments against marijuana have been dispelled. Today’s legalization opponents such as Insys Therapeutics, which develops synthetic painkillers, poured $500,000 into the “No” vote. It’s these legal painkillers that cause so much addiction and harm.

Prescription drugs increase our health costs and Big Pharma doesn’t want competition. I believe most attorneys, however, are for legalization, even though it will reduce our income.

One lingering anti-pot argument is that people will ingest and drive. This happens anyway and it will be illegal everywhere.

Not satisfied, opponents wonder how they will test for marijuana. Field tests still work, but jeez, how about we just arm each officer with a chocolate bar, and they could cuff the stoned drivers as they grab for it.

Legalization will come eventually, as it’s only the oldest age groups who are opposed. In February, the New Mexico Senate failed to pass legalization by only seven votes, however some of the “no” voting dinosaurs have been defeated and it’s more popular now.

Nancy Reagan just said no, however 15 million Americans use it regularly, and about half our population has admitted trying marijuana.

Republicans are increasingly in favor, because of the fiscal benefits and individual freedom arguments. Democrats are already there, and almost everyone wants to decrease the power of the violent drug cartels who smuggle pot across our border.

Let’s legalize it and have Mexico put up the wall, to keep New Mexicans from trafficking marijuana into their country.

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