Sophia Voravong, writing for the Lafayette Journal and Courier, has an article about a proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession expected to be considered by the upcoming Indiana General Assembly.
[Sen. Brent] Steele, chairman of the Senate committee on corrections, criminal and civil matters, wants to make possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana an infraction — similar to a traffic violation— instead of a misdemeanor, he told the Indianapolis Business Journal last month.
I don’t particularly think marijuana itself is inherently more troublesome than alcohol or cigarettes. And I don’t think those things are terribly likely to be gateways to harder, more damaging drugs like heroin or meth. But I do have a problem with decriminalization. I figure either they should leave it alone or legalize it. The problem I have with merely imposing a lighter penalty is that you’re still buying it from criminals.
In a sense, by decriminalizing marijuana but not legalizing it, you are encouraging more interactions between mostly law abiding citizens and folks more likely to rob them or use violence to protect their market share or enforce contracts.
I don’t know much about the drug economy, but my sense is that Anheuser Busch plays hardball, but they do it through the courts, police, and exercise of economic leverage. They have options, so direct violence probably isn’t in their tool kit. Joe Drug Dealer who has a marijuana line he would like you to purchase can’t go to the courts to enforce his contracts and the opinion of the FTC is probably low on his list of concerns. And, if John Drug Dealer tries to introduce competition into the market place, they probably won’t work out their differences in court.
So, anyway, it seems likely that by increasing the number of marijuana transactions and expanding the population engaging in such transactions, you increase the opportunities for violence. That, more than any real concerns about the nature of the drug itself, makes me think that decriminalization isn’t such a great idea.