Revenue Committee, Oct. 14, 2009

My name is Richard Evans. I live in Northampton, and for the past 35 years have maintained a law practice in Hampshire and Franklin counties. My practice focuses in the area of conservation real estate.

Marijuana bills do not often come before this committee, but this one is very appropriately here, especially if you think of it not as a marijuana bill, but about a commodity that is immensely popular among large numbers of people, and which, by what might most charitably be called an accident of history, happens to be illegal. Indeed, wars have been waged against marijuana, financed by huge resources from the federal and state governments.

And yet, and yet…..whatever you may think of marijuana—whether you love it or hate it or fear it or are indifferent toward it–it is undeniable, in 2009, that marjuana has become inextricably embedded in our culture. It is ubiquitous, and it is ineradicable.

If there is anyone who disputes those facts, he or she has a duty to step forward and tell us how much more money will have to be thrown at prohibition to make marijuana go away, and where that money will come from.

And those who accept those facts–that marijuana is ubiquitous and ineradicable–similarly have a duty to step forward and suggest how we as a society can curb abuse, protect the public health and safety, and eliminate the crime and violence associated with illicit trafficking.

It is in the exercise of that duty that we come before you today, and urge this committee to put on your green eyeshades and give very close scrutiny to prohibition, bearing in mind that the revenue potential from a taxed, regulated system such as H2929 would create may well be comparable to what you expect to make from casinos, and will not require the mutilation of a single forest.

Two states are already looking at this seriously: California and Rhode Island,

Economic circumstances being what they are, the marijuana issue has changed. It is no longer simply about the injustice and inefficacy of prohibition. Now it is about the obsolescence and unaffordability of prohibition, and whether it is a wise and prudent thing to turn our backs on the potential revenue from this commodity.

Thank you for according me this hearing.

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