Pubdate: Fri, 2 Jul 2010
Source: Metrowest Daily News (MA)
Copyright: 2010 Steven S. Epstein
Author: Steven S. Epstein


Any day now, Massachusetts officially will welcome

Within months, bulldozers will clear open space for private parking
lots, buildings, highways and infrastructure. The commonwealth will
take its place among states balancing their budgets with licensing
fees and taxes from gaming.

The legislative logic and addiction to revenue that drives the gaming
proposal is equally applicable to other "vices." So why is the
legislature not proposing regulating prostitution and the production
and commerce in the most popular substance current law prohibits: marijuana?

While there is no proposal on Beacon Hill to regulate prostitution,
there is pending S. 1801, "An Act to Regulate and Tax the Cannabis
Industry." It proposes a system of regulatory control over cannabis
cultivation and commerce that it is estimated would be at least as
great as legalized gaming and that would take a half billion-dollar
bite out of criminal enterprises! Before voters in 2008,
overwhelmingly approved decriminalization of possession of an ounce or
less, Massachusetts ranked at the top of all states in adult per
capita consumption, since passage Massachusetts retains this high
rank. The opponents of the ballot question prophesied that the sky
would fall, but they were wrong.

Now it is time to take the next step and legalize

As Harvard Professor of Economics Jeffrey Miron observed in the graduation
issue of the Harvard Crimson in May:
Legalization will move the marijuana industry above ground, just as the
repeal of alcohol prohibition restored the legal alcohol industry.

A small component of the marijuana market might remain illicit -
moonshine marijuana rather than moonshine whiskey - but if regulation
and taxation are moderate, most producers and consumers will choose
the legal sector, as they did with alcohol.

If only the legislature had the imagination and fortitude of the
Provincial Congress of 1774-1775.

Steven S. Epstein


Steven Epstein practices law in Georgetown,
and is active with the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake