The War On Drugs Has Failed, So Tax And Regulate Marijuana

Commentary & Analysis

By Gary E. Johnson
Board member, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy
Author, “Seven Principles of Good Government”
Governor of New Mexico (R)

April 19, 2010 – It’s time we tax and regulate marijuana. The War on Drugs is a proven failure. We have spent several decades and close to a trillion dollars trying to eliminate drugs.

Consider these facts:

* The last three Presidents and half of American adults have smoked marijuana.
* More children have tried marijuana, which is illegal, than cigarettes, which are regulated.
* Last year we arrested 850,000 people for marijuana, mostly for possession.
* So far, fourteen states have passed medical marijuana laws enabling sick people to benefit.
* Massachusetts, Denver, and Seattle have either successfully decriminalized, or instituted lowest priority law enforcement policies for marijuana possession.

We learned a valuable lesson with alcohol prohibition in this country. Prohibition created black markets and violence as gangs fought to control the market. The same thing is true today. Mexican cartels make the majority of their profits distributing marijuana in 230 American cities, and the resulting violence is tragic. That’s why the presidents of many Latin American countries signed a declaration that the war on drugs needs to be ended.

“Rather than wasting $10-$40 billion every year trying to stamp out marijuana, we should tax marijuana.”

But we may be going the wrong direction. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are asking for more money for the failed Merida Initiative. Do they really believe that more helicopters for Mexico will do anything to stop the use of marijuana in this country? On top of that, the Obama Administration is overseeing armed federal raids in states where medical marijuana is legal. This needs to stop.

If we regulate marijuana the way we do alcohol and tobacco, we can put the gangs out of business. Our courageous law enforcement officers will be free to secure public safety rather than chasing after informed adults for getting high. We can make sure our children are protected. And we can make sure that sick people get their medicine without fear.

The effects on the economy would be significant. Right now, Washington is borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar being spent. Rather than wasting $10-40 billion every year trying to stamp out marijuana, we should tax marijuana. Marijuana is this country’s largest cash crop, a $36 billion-a-year industry that is bigger than corn and wheat combined. The revenue could be put to good use.

We ended prohibition during the Great Depression when people were struggling economically. Today, we also have tough times in our economy. People are concerned for their jobs and their futures. Let’s tax and regulate marijuana so we can put our time, energy, and resources to the important project of growing the economy and building Our America. Source.

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