Dennis Potvin - Tennessee Democrat

Marijuana Legalization

I have never been a user of tobacco or marijuana, so the issue has never been close to my heart. However, with several states adopting legislation to legalize its recreational use, it is clear that Tennesseans may have to make a decision about marijuana legalization in upcoming elections, perhaps as soon as 2018.

I do not profess to be an expert in every proposal that would reach my desk. If the will of the people is strong enough that cannabis legalization is proposed, then I will do my due diligence and research the issue to the fullest extent. I would seek counsel from legislators in states that have recently legalized pot (such as California, Nevada and Massachusetts), and review the subsequent negative impact of the decision on their communities.

We all know that legal sales of marijuana inject tax income into the government that never before existed. It frees up valuable police time and deters criminal activity and illegal immigration. Conversely, it could lead to an increase of traffic accidents as a result of driving under the influence, although I am certain that distracted driving (texting and driving) is a far greater epidemic.

One fact in which I do believe strongly is that prohibition has never - and will never - work once the will of the people is decided. As a nation, we learned this the hard way with the passing of the 18th Amendment (the prohibition of alcohol in 1920), which failed so miserably that it led to its repeal via the 21st Amendment, ratified only 13 years later.

Once I have reviewed the facts and stats with other legislators in states that have legalized marijuana, I would be willing to support the will of the voters and create a rite of passage for legalization of recreational use in Tennessee.

© 2017 Dennis Potvin
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