Frank Godfrey: Common Interests and Marijuana Legalization

Frank Godfrey, a lawyer in Beaverton, Oregon, gave us a nice guest post today about legalization and its potential to bring folks together from different parts of the political spectrum.

Godfrey also offered to give us more posts in the future on some of the law aspects of legalization, which we plan to run.

I think he has some great points in his first post.

Check it out below:


By Frank Godfrey
Moomaw Mesirow & Godfrey, LLP

(Frank Godfrey)
(Frank Godfrey)

There have been many interesting issues to discuss since Washington began its experiment with the legalization of marijuana.

Discussions have ranged from the price of particular strains to the tax structure imposed on growers and retailers.

To be certain, other issues have been discussed as well.

Oregon voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana in their state in November.

Oregon voters are looking to Colorado and Washington to see what legal marijuana looks like and has produced in those states. The anti-marijuana forces have begun to speak to the issue. I won’t address their arguments, but will point out what I’ve read and heard so far demonstrates those forces are trying to divide citizens.

In my opinion, they are taking an “us versus them” approach. This is counter-productive.

I’d like to take the discussion in a different direction.

We should consider the potential for legal marijuana to be an issue which unites people from different political perspectives.

People on the more conservative end of the political spectrum often talk and with good reason about the need to limit the size of our federal government. That is an important issue.

Our country is governed by the principle of federalism. The federal government’s power should be limited and issues like the regulation of marijuana should be left to the decision of individual states and their citizens. In our Republic, our sister states serve as laboratories of democracy. This is a constitutional issue.

People on the more liberal end of the political spectrum are concerned and with good reason about the disproportionate pattern of marijuana related arrests between white and dark skinned citizens.

Statistics bear out that dark skinned citizens are much more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for marijuana possession than white citizens. This is a civil rights issue.

People who are concerned about our slow economic recovery often talk and with good reason about the need to create jobs for our citizens.

We have emerged from the worst economic crisis since 1929. While the stock market is healthy, job creation in the private sector continues to lag. A full economic recovery can only be accomplished when jobs are created and all citizens have an opportunity to work and participate in our economy. A legal marijuana industry provides just such an opportunity.

The economic impact can be significant and that would be positive. This is a business issue.

People are also concerned and with good reason that marijuana is not always available as a medical treatment for their family, friends and fellow citizens.

Thankfully, more states are allowing legal or quasi-legal access to marijuana for their suffering citizens. This is a medical issue.

It appears if we sit down with our fellow citizens and have a rational and thoughtful discussion we will discover there are many issues about the legalization of marijuana that will serve to unite rather than divide us.

This is an important and understated consideration.

We live in a time where political compromise is often hard to achieve. It is often hard to achieve because we fail to take into consideration issues of common interest.

The issue of marijuana legalization provides all of us an opportunity to come together and work towards achieving many different, positive goals that will serve all citizens. This is productive.