Corrections officer and guest columnist Serwan Zangana is accurate in his assessment that marijuana is not without potential adverse effects (“Virginia wrong to legalize marijuana,” May 25: https://roanoke.com/opinion/columnists/zangana-virginia-wrong-to-legalize-marijuana/article_bc46dffa-b813-11eb-9088-5ff33fd5f84e.html).
Yet, it is precisely because cannabis is not altogether innocuous that it should be legalized and regulated accordingly -- with restrictions on who can consume it, when and where they can consume it, and at what age.
Just as alcohol prohibition took the production and sale of booze out of the hands of licensed businesses and placed it into the hands of organized crime, marijuana prohibition pushes the commercial cannabis market into the hands of cartels and other underworld players who don't pay taxes, don't engage in quality control, don’t check ID, and often settle their business disputes by engaging in acts of violence rather than through courts of law. By contrast, marijuana legalization and regulation in Virginia will disrupt the illicit market, end low-level marijuana arrests, create jobs and new revenue.
Let’s be clear, legalization will not introduce cannabis to Virginia. Rather it is a common sense public policy response to the fact that marijuana is already here. That is why the majority of Virginians, and their elected officials, endorse this important policy change.
It makes no sense from a public health perspective, a fiscal perspective, or a moral perspective to perpetuate the prosecution and stigmatization of adults who choose to responsibly consume a substance that is objectively safer than either alcohol or tobacco.
for the Reform
of Marijuana Laws