Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quillen: Colorado fighting the wrong plant - The Denver Post

Quillen: Colorado fighting the wrong plant - The Denver Post

Much as I hate to disagree with my state representative, Tom Massey of Poncha Springs, it is time for our legislature to take "free-market" principles seriously, and take our state totally out of the marijuana-enforcement business.

Cannabis ought to be like any other plant grown in Colorado. You and I are free to cultivate, buy and sell alfalfa, potatoes or chili peppers. Why should marijuana be any different?

The benefits of flat-out legalization are numerous. Local and state government budgets are tight these days, and there have to be better uses for our tax dollars than the millions we spend on enforcement, prosecution and incarceration.

The current "medical marijuana" controversy just adds to the complication — as well as the cost, since "licensed growers" aren't going to welcome unbridled competition that would lower prices. But that's their problem; why should it be anyone else's?

As for the violence and corruption that accompany prohibition, that's a result of the big profits to be made by dealing in substances made artificially scarce. To put it another way, when was the last time you heard of a gunfight over a bale of hay, or a bribe to transfer a bushel of potatoes?

Granted, there are objections, but they don't stand up well.

The law-enforcement community wants tighter regulation, or even a return to outright prohibition. Of course. But this isn't because they're concerned about public safety. It's because they're concerned about keeping their jobs and expanding their bureaucracies. The more things that are illegal, the more work there is for them.

In other words, we are naturally skeptical when educators tell us they need smaller classrooms and longer school days and terms, which means more teachers and higher pay. So why aren't we just as dubious about sheriffs and police chiefs who crave bigger budgets? I don't blame them for wanting more money and power — we're all tempted along that line — but let's drop the pretense that it has anything to do with improving the public welfare.

Legalization would send the wrong message to children. The main message from the current system — the futile and expensive War Against a Plant — is that America is run by hypocritical morons. How could legalization present a worse message?

It would make our highways more dangerous, and we already have trouble enough with alcohol. For one thing, that's really an argument for better public transportation and improved pedestrian facilities, so that people feel less of a need to drive under various influences.

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