By Makayla-Courtney McGeeney
Shaleen Title, Esq., an activist to end the war on drugs, spoke on Thursday, March 27 as a guest of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) in the Feigenbaum Science Center lecture hall.
Title served as a consultant and spokesperson for the Colorado Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which legalized marijuana in 2012.
“Soon, we’ll have the majority on our side,” she said. “We’re just winning, period.”
Title first decided to become an activist when she heard a speaker once say that “one in three African American males will go to prison during their lifetime.” She spoke to the guest afterward to correct him, asking if the statistic was one in 30, but when the original was right, Title said that’s when she decided to change it.
She spoke about how the audience is graduating at a perfect time because right now, jobs are being made in a time of change.
“The fact is that 55 percent of people support legalization of marijuana and 68 percent say they are more likely to go to the polls if legalizing marijuana is on the ballot,” she said. “The Federal Government is making it easier for state legal operators to operate, and they’re pushing for shorter mandatory minimum drug sentences.”
Title said that Colorado is expected to bring in $1 billion from the newly acquired marijuana business and $100 million in tax revenue. She couldn’t grasp why the rest of the nation wouldn’t want to follow this movement.
“Drug prohibition needs to end,” she said. “It doesn’t work and it will not work.”
She asked the audience what came to mind when she said alcohol prohibition and replies sounded ‘speakeasy,’ and ‘drinking anyway.’ Regardless of how much money is put toward prohibition, it still leads to trouble and ineffective policies. It also puts drug and alcohol addiction in a darker light.
Much of Title’s message reflected ways to help regulate marijuana and professional tips for students looking for a career involving drug policy reform. Such tips include ten lessons on how to become more marketable and use social network platforms to an advantage.
President of SSDP Mike Vogt primarily chose Title to speak because of her recognition, recent work and awards.
“She offers a unique experience,” he said. “I like how she did little things to help the bigger picture like working behind a desk, making phone calls, etc.”
Title attended law school at the University Of Illinois College Of Law in 2008 and said that when she held meetings and talks for her own SSDP group, no one attended. Once the ball started rolling in legalizing marijuana was when people started lining up at the door of Title’s meetings taking notes and asking her questions.
“I learned a lot about Amendment 64 that was passed in Colorado,” SSDP Event Coordinator Kristina Alexander said. “It was also cool of her to present professional business tips that pertain to those who want a job in the drug policy industry.”
Title stressed that diversity is a major characteristic in the change on the drug war.
“Diversity will take this movement to the next level,” she said. “It’s how we’re going to win. There will be a ripple effect that will grow into a national level.”
She said that she believes that persuasion is based on emotion rather than facts and statistics, which haven’t convinced people at all from her experiences.
Title’s last lesson was a quote from Buckminster Fuller, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”
Colorado Recreational Weed Sales
•According to the Huffington Post, licensed dispensaries have already generated a total of more than $14 million and $2 million in tax revenue
•Clear revenue patterns are expected to develop by April to help plan for the future
•There are 59 businesses around Colorado
•A 10 percent sales tax was approved last November along with a 15 percent excise tax
•$600 million is projected to come from just recreational sales in the next fiscal year
•The first week of sales was robust in the state. With only 37 dispensaries open at the time, they collectively brought in roughly $5 million in total sales.
•The state will collect about $134 million in taxes and fees