In Their Own Words: Andrew Horwitz

What are the chances Rhode Island will be the first New England state to proceed with cannabis taxation and regulation?

I wish that I could say that I was optimistic about passage this year, but I am concerned that pervasive public misconceptions and misinformation will get in the way. The Providence Journal has exacerbated these misconceptions and perpetuated this misinformation in some editorials on the subject. Sadly, at this stage I expect that other New England states – most likely Massachusetts – will see the light before we do.

Would legalization make the job of the police easier or harder?

Legalization and regulation would make the job of our police officers easier. Right now they must make judgment calls about whether to devote our scarce law enforcement resources enforcing low level non-violent offenses. The unfortunate reality is that officers, in the exercise of this discretion, often wind up making judgment calls in a racially discriminatory fashion. Eliminating this discretion by legalizing the conduct would he lp reduce racial discrimination and make it easier for police officers to concentrate on serious and violent crime.

How would marijuana legalization impact the heroin epidemic and the use of other illegal drugs?

Legalization and regulation of marijuana would mean that people seeking to purchase marijuana would no longer have to encounter drug dealers. This strikes me as particularly important when we think about our youth. Less interaction with drug dealers should reduce the ability as well as the temptation to access other drugs. The concept that marijuana is some sort of “gateway drug” has been long ago disproved in the medical literature.

Do you think marijuana legalization should be decided by lawmakers or public referendum?

Lawmakers are better equipped than the general public to look at complicated and potentially incendiary public policy issues. Our founders developed a representative democracy for a reason: We elect the people we trust to gather information and make informed decisions based upon our collective bests interests. Any public referendum would likely be decided based on misinformation.

Are there any legal industries in our state that would be hurt by the legalization and taxation of marijuana?

I don’t think there is any question that legalizing and regulating marijuana would enhance our local economy. New businesses would develop and thrive and our tax base would increase exponentially. I do not see any reason to believe that any industries other than the illegal drug trade and the prison industrial complex would be harmed.
What do you think of the governor’s proposal to tag and tax each plant grown for medicinal purposes?
The proposal to tax medicinal marijuana strikes me as both senseless and cruel. We do not tax medication for a reason, and taxing medical marijuana makes as little sense as taxing blood pressure medication. There is no reason to try to raise money on the backs of the infirmed.

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