Tulsi Gabbard is making strides to end the decriminalization of marijuana through the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. This act would take marijuana off of the controlled substances list and join substances such as alcohol and tobacco. Gabbard states that marijuana is no more dangerous than beer and cigarettes, and arguably does less damage than the two combined. People are being incarcerated for owning small amounts of the stuff, and the resulting criminal process is tearing apart families and filling up space in prisons. Meanwhile, there are other, more pressing issues and more dangerous people that could stand to serve time in cells that pot users are currently filling. It is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars jailing people who only want to smoke what is essentially a cigarette.
Everyday Americans are being turned into criminals, and the negative connotations affixed to that title are tremendous. It is impossible to get certain jobs with a criminal record, so what purpose does it serve to incarcerate and subject non-violent, law abiding citizens to a lifetime of the stigma associated with jail time. Gabbard states that there are infinitely more pressing issues that should be addressed besides seeking out marijuana users. The cost of enforcement, prison time, and probation are all too high of a cost to maintain, and studies have shown that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes.
The reform would also serve as a vital stepping stone to medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii. As the current legislation prevents the production, distribution, and usage of marijuana, banks are unable to provide licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries. Decriminalization will enable faster research and development of various strains of the plant, which will then go to clinics and then finally to the people. The bill that Gabbard hopes to pass would make it much easier for Americans who need the drug to purchase it without hassle, and it would save thousands of dollars in legal processing fees for the dispensaries.
Gabbard is 100% in the right when it comes to wanting marijuana laws reformed. Legalization of the plant will greatly free up resources for other endeavors, such as education, mental health, and the growing homelessness problem in the state of Hawaii. There will also be more funds available to put towards substance abuse awareness. Despite controversy over the drug, the move to decriminalize the drug can only mean good things for America; citizens will no longer have to worry about partaking in a past-time that is as harmless as having a drink, and the criminal justice system will be free from having to waste valuable resources apprehending non-violent citizens. Further reforms will ensure that the only people ending up in a jail cell will be those who have seriously broken the law.