We must end marijuana prohibition for economic recovery in a post pandemic world

We must end marijuana prohibition for economic recovery in a post pandemic world

By Richard Cowan

In the midst of the pandemic, there is much uncertainty about almost everything, but one thing does seem certain. America is going to be much poorer. Or, to put in a global perspective, America and a few other countries will be much less rich and the rest of the world will be much, much poorer, and no wall or welfare program will protect us.

In Los Angeles, the global center of the entertainment industry, the unemployment rate is already around 50%, and many jobs and businesses are gone forever. The sheer scale of the problems will almost certainly lead to social unrest which will be visible to the world. But so will the solutions, because the world really does look to “Hollywood” for imagination.

So use your imagination. Imagine what Los Angeles and America and the world would look like without marijuana prohibition.

Of course, one might imagine that marijuana prohibition has ended in California and especially in Los Angeles, where there are 155 licensed marijuana dispensaries.

And Los Angeles even has a “Department of Cannabis Regulation” which is trying to navigate through the competing interests in the retail marijuana business by deciding who gets one of the very valuable new retail licenses that the city will issue. The DCR has just completed a review of L.A.’s policies, so let the competition begin.

Now for context. The City of Los Angeles has approximately 4 million people and Los Angeles County has around 10 million.

But also consider that there are approximately 1,600 bars, not including a huge number of restaurants that serve alcohol, and then there are hundreds of “liquor stores”, and most supermarkets have huge selections of almost every type of alcohol, beer, wine and booze. And there are also delivery services…

For added context, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, each year nationwide there are roughly 250,000 emergency department visits for alcohol addiction withdrawal which is so extreme that there are 850 deaths related to alcohol withdrawal. Ironically, that is why alcohol sales are considered “essential”, especially in the lockdown.

But Zero deaths directly attributable to marijuana use.

And alcohol kills thousands more in accidents and is a major factor in violence, especially domestic violence, during the current lockdown.

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