TEXAS: If the War on Drugs has failed, is legalization the next legal step? It’s an old question. But you may be surprised to learn who’s asking it, these days.
The Houston Young Republicans held a forum, Tuesday night, to consider the ins and outs of drug legalization.
“This event was the result of several members coming forward and saying, ‘You know what? This is something we need to finally examine and address as a party,’” said John Griffing, a vice president with the Houston Young Republicans.
The group heard from Richard Lee, a former Houstonian and medical marijuana user who has campaigned for the legalization of cannabis.
Lee says if pot were regulated and taxed – like alcohol – that would reduce the collateral damage of the drug war.
“We ended Prohibition not because we said alcohol is great for everybody to use,” said Lee. “We said that it’s creating all this crime, it’s creating Al Capone. (Prohibition) is creating more problems than it’s solving.”
For years there have been forums looking at drug legalization, but most have been organized by left-leaning groups concerned mainly with civil liberties and harm reduction.
Lee says the debate belongs equally in the Republican camp.
“This should be a conservative issue. Republicans are in favor of more personal responsibility and less government, and that’s what ending cannabis prohibition is all about.”
But opponents – while acknowledging the inadequacy of the War on Drugs – wonder whether legalizing marijuana, cocaine or even heroin would be a better strategy.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, director of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), envisions the result.