How to Boost the Economy?: Legalize It

prohibition1As we all know (I hope you know) the government decided that among a bunch of useless wars that the War on Drugs would prove necessary. You know, because the government has to tell you how to live your life and all that jazz. Anyway, as many of you may or may not know, I am a strong advocate for the legalization of marijuana. I cannot stand pharmaceutical companies and many of the addictive prescription drugs they put out on the market that are deemed legal. I was talking about this with some of my friends and then we got into a conversation about how legalizing marijuana would lower our ‘War on Drugs’ debt significantly and could give the disastrous American economy a much needed boost. Don’t believe me? Here is an article I found at alternet.org:

‘According to the new BJS report, “Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004,” 12.7 percent of state inmates and 12.4 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for drug violations are serving time for marijuana offenses. Combining these percentages with separate U.S. Department of Justice statistics on the total number of state and federal drug prisoners suggests that there are now about 33,655 state inmates and 10,785 federal inmates behind bars for marijuana offenses. The report failed to include estimates on the percentage of inmates incarcerated in county and/or local jails for pot-related offenses.

Multiplying these totals by U.S. DOJ prison expenditure data reveals that taxpayers are spending more than $1 billion annually to imprison pot offenders.’

Yes, you read that right. It costs over $1,000,000,000 annually to lock people up for marijuana charges — fuckin’ ridiculous. And it gets better:

‘”‘The new report is noteworthy because it undermines the common claim from law enforcement officers and bureaucrats, specifically White House drug czar John Walters, that few, if any, Americans are incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. In reality, nearly 1 out of 8 U.S. drug prisoners are locked up for pot.

Of course, several hundred thousand more Americans are arrested each year for violating marijuana laws, costing taxpayers another $8 billion dollars annually in criminal justice costs.

According to the most recent figures available from the FBI, police arrested an estimated 786,545 people on marijuana charges in 2005 — more than twice the number of Americans arrested just 12 years ago. Among those arrested, about 88 percent — some 696,074 Americans — were charged with possession only. The remaining 90,471 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes all cultivation offenses, even those where the marijuana was being grown for personal or medical use.

These totals are the highest ever recorded by the FBI, and make up 42.6 percent of all drug arrests in the United States. Nevertheless, self-reported pot use by adults, as well as the ready availability of marijuana on the black market, remains virtually unchanged.

Marijuana isn’t a harmless substance, and those who argue for a change in the drug’s legal status do not claim it to be. However, pot’s relative risks to the user and society are arguably fewer than those of alcohol and tobacco, and they do not warrant the expenses associated with targeting, arresting and prosecuting hundreds of thousands of Americans every year.

According to federal statistics, about 94 million Americans — that’s 40 percent of the U.S. population age 12 or older — self-identify as having used cannabis at some point in their lives, and relatively few acknowledge having suffered significant deleterious health effects due to their use. America’s public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it. It makes no sense to continue to treat nearly half of all Americans as criminals.”‘

So here’s another question: How in the hell are we winning the War on Drugs? Every year the American taxpayer gets the shaft and is rarely given new information on the supposed “progress” taking place. It pretty much all boils down to one known fact: the best stuff isn’t grown here, and because products like Hemp were threatening businesses it was easy for lobbyists to demand that it be made illegal. Oh, and bullshit propaganda. I think we would be winning if we taxed and regulated it decreasing imprisonments and yes, even organized crime (heard of the Zetas cartel by any chance?) But until then, we’ll see what happens with this new administration…

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