Criminalizing marijuana carries a high cost

Desperate times require Americans to rethink the nation’s never-ending war on drugs and its effects.070427_PB_Joint

June 16th, 2009 – If you believe a pothead could never amount to anything, think again. President Barack Obama, Michael Phelps and Bill Gates were all potheads.

While some potheads amount to nothing, others grow up to become president.

Yet still, a marijuana smoker is arrested every 43 seconds in the United States and billions of dollars in law enforcement and correction costs are pumped into the system to enforce marijuana laws. A complete overhaul of the current policy is required to reap the benefits of legalizing marijuana.

Marijuana has therapeutic and medicinal effects, and is much less harmful when compared to other legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. The use of weed has not claimed a single life in this nation’s history. Many anti-marijuana groups will bash me for that repeated fact and inform me that marijuana use can result in dependence on the drug. Sure it could, but so do alcohol and tobacco, the effects of which are far more pronounced for the human body and result in the combined deaths of 875,000 Americans every year.

Legalization would bring useful revenue into the government. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the US spends $12.1 billion on law enforcement and court costs and $16.9 billion in correction costs every year. That is a lot of money the government is spending on preventing marijuana, the production of which has increased ten times over the past ten years, and has a production profit which is more than the combined production of wheat and corn in the US. You might as well have Cannabis Crispies with milk every morning.

Moreover, legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana can bring about $7.6 billion dollars for the government and free up an additional $7 billion dollars in taxpayer money. If the government implemented a tax, it could provide a $150 tax subsidy to every person in America.

The legalization of marijuana would also prevent the spread of other harmful drugs and eliminate the black market. A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor accused the green leaf of being the “gateway” to other drugs like cocaine and heroin. With legalization, no longer would it be required to stop by the alley and purchase a joint from a dealer who also happens to be dealing cocaine or heroin. With the elimination of the street dealers, the spread of other illicit drugs could be decreased and one could safely walk into Dissmore’s to purchase some marijuana.

Full legalization would also reduce the crime rate. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, marijuana production and profit supports organized crime and street gangs. Legalization would stop such financial gains and free up police personnel as well as provide excess funds to tackle other orders of violence on the streets that require more attention.

The legalization of marijuana is in no way an excuse to earn more revenue and grow our economy. The benefits of legalization are far more encompassing than that.

People need to rid themselves of the societal stigma surrounding marijuana, educate themselves and make an informed decision on its legalization. The constraints of society and an ill-informed perception should never limit the growth and progress of the people.

During the three minutes that it took you to read this article, about five people were arrested for simple possession of marijuana, and $171,232 was spent on law enforcement and correction costs.

By Qasim Hussaini. Source.

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