Editor's Note: On Saturday, April 20 (4/20), former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson published an op-ed on PolicyMic calling for America's politicians to legalize marijuana. Governor Johnson agreed to write short follow-up responses to the most Mic'd commenters in the discussion on his article. Read his responses to four PolicyMic pundits below.
1. Douglas Goodman – 22 Mics
Estimates of the potential economic benefits and tax revenues that would result from legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana and hemp vary wildly; however, there is no doubt that some such benefits could be substantial. If the Feds will allow it, the recent legalization by Washington and Colorado will give us an indication of those benefits. What we DO know is that relieving law enforcement, the courts and the prisons of the costs of enforcing prohibition would produce absolute and immediate financial benefits.
2. Roy Klabin – 18 Mics
The short answer to your questions is "Yes - all of the above." What do we do about that? We organize and create a constituency FOR legalization. As many as 100 million Americans have, at some point in their lives, used marijuana, and but for sheer luck, would today have a criminal record. That is not an insignificant political factor, if only those Americans will engage in the process. Also, even the politicians cannot forever ignore votes such as those in Washington and Colorado this past November.
3. Christian Rice – 15 Mics
I am very serious about health and fitness, and pride myself on taking care of my body. That's why I do not use marijuana, why I don't drink alcohol and why I am very careful about what I eat. And, I believe the world would be a better place if more people did the same. From that standpoint, one could argue against legalization. However, the same argument can be made about alcohol, cigarettes, 64 oz. sodas, and going out in the sun without sunscreen. In a free society, personal choices and liberty are important, and the hypocrisy of marijuana prohibition is glaring – regardless of how you personally feel about its use.
4. Sagar Jathani – 14 Mics
First, I would point out that prohibition of marijuana has not prevented almost half of all high school students in the U.S. from trying it, and I would also suggest that it is arguably more difficult for an underage person to buy a beer than it is to buy pot. Thus, the issue is not whether use is a good thing, but rather that prohibition has not constrained that use. Maybe it's time to try a different approach.