Beto O'Rourke Pushes for Decriminalization of Marijuana -- Is That the Right Way to End the Drug Wars?

Beto O'Rourke Pushes for Decriminalization of Marijuana -- Is That the Right Way to End the Drug Wars?1025
source: Instagram

White House hopeful Beto O'Rourke unveiled Thursday a plan to legalize and tax marijuana in an attempt to end drug wars.

He proposes to regulate marijuana in ways much similar to alcohol: requiring IDs to buy it, limiting its use in public spaces as well as focusing on deterring driving under the influence.

Furthermore, as per the O'Rourke's plan, the U.S. government would no longer be able to use marijuana-related offenses as grounds to deport illegal immigrants.

In addition to that, his proposal also includes a federal tax on the marijuana industry, without giving more details. Proceeds from the tax would be spent to fund a series of initiatives to guarantee the smooth reentry to society for those imprisoned for marijuana possession. The government would also use the funds to support substance abuse treatment programs.

 O'Rourke also proposes the so-called "Drug War Justice Grant." It would provide money to people formerly incarcerated for marijuana offenses in state and federal prisons. It would give priority to minority-owned businesses, and it would supply them with a license to produce, distribute, and sell marijuana.

The former Texas congressman framed his entire political career around the legalization of marijuana. In 2011, he co-authored a book arguing for decriminalizing marijuana, pointing out its role in reducing violence in Mexico. 

His positive attitude towards cannabis legalization was the central point in his campaign several years ago when he ousted former Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes in 2012 House primary and entered national politics.

O'Rourke's advocacy for decriminalizing of marijuana did not help him to oust Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last year.

As a White House hopeful, O'Rourke has framed the problem as a matter of social and racial injustice. While he was campaigning in Iowa last March, he emphasized that those arrested on marijuana-related charges are "browner and blacker than most of the nation.'' 

In his opinion, the government should take actions to repair the damage caused to the communities of color disproportionately locked up in the criminal justice system.

O'Rourke also added that these inequalities have existed for decades, as predominantly white communities have been the vast majority of the cannabis-related business opportunities. 

Beto O'Rourke is not the sole Democratic presidential candidate to support decriminalizing of marijuana and expunging the records of those jailed for non-violent related offenses. 

What do you think? Do you support or oppose O'Rourke in his plans to legalize of marijuana at the federal level?