I don’t think there is any doubt that weed will become legal everywhere soon, including red states. The question is, will the War on Drugs and the Prison Industrial Complex (regarding weed, specifically) end? There is a reason I’m more in favor of decriminalization than legalization. I feel legalization carries more baggage. Full legalization means more regulation, which could lead to more criminalization.
I can see a scenario where there is legal weed and illegal weed. I see the legal weed being more regulated, thus far more expensive, keeping the black market alive, thereby keeping the cogs of the legal system greased. The system must continue to cycle fresh bodies, in the form of small-time pushers and illegal weed smokers, to sustain itself.
Law Enforcement, Probation and Corrections lobbies are not going to take laying off workers lightly. Revenue generation, the creation of jobs and maintaining them – which has been the double edge sword of the War on Drugs – has created a unique cocktail of factors, albeit I think most of these consequences are unintentional, that’s led to the government being far more addicted to drugs than users are themselves.
The Rub: I’m not sure I can rationally envision a scenario in which these entities don’t shift their focus and reshape the War on Drugs for the survival of the system. Unless the citizens are taxed significantly more, and I’m not suggesting this should be the case, I don’t see Law Enforcement Agencies not manufacturing crime to supplement the lost dollars in weed, if weed becomes a non-factor. Since all the states that have legalized weed thus far have been blue (sans Alaska), and blue states, by and large, are generally much more receptive to being grossly over-taxed, I think sustaining the system without over-aggressive municipalities generating revenue through punitive measures, could fly there…which is why I think we haven’t heard much about this issue in the last few years. But I think this could be really contentious in red states.
Perhaps the best way to achieve balance would be to replace the investigation and prosecution of marijuana-related offenses with those crimes which have been largely left unpursued thus far: identity theft, hacking and credit card fraud. These cases are often not even investigated due to a combination of the difficulty in tracking down the suspects and overworked law enforcement personnel not having the time or resources to dedicate to thorough investigations of them. Most municipal and county Law Enforcement Agencies don’t even know how to traceroute an IP address, much less tackle the use of VPNs and encryption. It’s time to assign cybercrime detectives at the county and municipal level, and give them the training and resources with which to track down the hackers, carders and fraudsters that are costing taxpayers billions a year in theft.
I think the biggest lie we’ve been told over the years is that the government really wants drugs off the street. Doing so would mean the slaughter of one of their most sacred cash cows.