Just listening to the conversations this morning and watching the debate in society around this issue, I think the biggest challenge for people, including members of the committee whose comments this morning reflected concerns for adolescents, for unborn children, and drug-impaired driving, is that, while all of these concerns are valid, in my opinion, they are worsened by prohibition. All the organized crime, grow ops, home invasions, and fires where these grow ops exist are all a natural consequence of prohibition in the same way that all the organized crime, corruption, and violence emerged under alcohol prohibition.
For people who are sincerely concerned about young people, fetuses, and all of the harms to our society from this massive unregulated cannabis industry, I just encourage them to pause, take a deep breath, and acknowledge the fact that cannabis is more freely and easily available to young people than alcohol and tobacco are, and that, if we strictly and with a great deal of government intervention, regulated the adult use of cannabis, we could probably address many of these harms and at the same time do away with the forbidden fruit phenomena that is also a natural consequence of prohibition with young people wanting to use cannabis because we've made it illegal.
The policy has been a failure. It's been an extreme burden to taxpayers. It has been a taxpayer investment that has resulted in the growth of organized crime. It simply has not worked, and we shouldn't continue to pour money into this failed exercise.
We should be having a thoughtful conversation about taxing and regulating the adult use of cannabis as a strategy to address all of these harms that we've been dealing with for a long time. It's going to take a lot of courage for any government to do this, but I certainly encourage our current government to approach this in a thoughtful way and look to be innovative instead of making the same mistakes that we've made in the past.