This entry cites the following recent articles & videos:
- New York Times – Peru Coca Production
- Detroit Metro Times – Roots of the Fiasco
- New York Times – DEA Unsure Who Is Who
- New York Times – Mexican Drug Trafficking Violence
- CNN – Former Surgeon General Calls to Legalize Pot
- CNN via YouTube – Former Mexican President Says Open Discussion on Legalization of Marijuana
- Huffington Post – Cops Pressured to Deny Legalization Support
- Houston Chronical – Waging War Against War on Drugs (this is a well written opinion piece)
All these articles have good information. Even information in the opinion article is supported by other articles. Of these eight, I’d suggest reading #1, 4, 7, and 8 to get the most rounded set of information, and I’d put an emphasis on #7.
I’ve read similar articles about the widespread support of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) by police & judges. As mentioned in that article, most law enforcement and judges can’t voice their opinion to legalize drugs until the day they retire.
The flip-side of this coin is the large number of people comfortably settled into their drug business that they vote against legalization. Several states have supported medical marijuana, but that is in part because illegal producers can still make a profit through that service, but at reduced risk. However, if marijuana were made fully legal, their profits would plummet. Additionally, virtually none of the thousands of tons of marijuana coming in from Mexico show up in medical dispensaries so most people involved in that trade will vote against legalization. This amounts to 10s of billions of tax-free dollars going to individuals, and often out of the country.
I’ve briefly stated what we’re losing in tax revenue on pot alone; now let’s look at the costs. Article 8 tells us the easily accountable taxes spent on the drug war by the U.S. are about $50 billion a year. Add that to the money spent by all the other governments we push to battle suppliers of our consumption.
For this discussion, I want to focus only on the legalization of marijuana even though, for many reasons, I agree with a growing number of people that all drugs should be legal. Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol, violent crime greatly increased, and that is no different than we see in today’s situation.
Many of you might recall the government funded researcher who developed all kinds of study results pointing to the poor effects of marijuana and other drugs recanted all of his studies 3-4 years ago. This was reported by all the major news sources. After years of chiding by his peers at other labs for his scientific methods designed to get those results, he finally put together a large, long-term, federally funded study to look at the long-term effects of marijuana. He found the marijuana using group showed no decrease in memory or increases in other negative health issues over the non-using group. In fact, he found a slightly statistical decrease in cancer rates among marijuana users over the non-users, and those with cancer had better outcomes. No government funded studies touting marijuana’s negative effects have come out since that time.
Marijuana and other drug enforcement takes desperately needed time & resources from deterring and investigating violent crimes. Also, people convicted of violent crimes get out of prison sooner to make way for drug offenders. Unfortunately, many of these violent criminals leave prison only to commit more violent crimes.
Prison overcrowding has led to the end of all mental therapeutic and other rehabilitation programs in most California prisons. Other states are facing growing problems as well. This means the violent robbers, rapists, and murders we sent to prison for rehabilitation and education get none at all, and they return to society more frustrated than ever, and with even less opportunities than before.
One final note on this issue is with the prison gymnasiums turned into high-occupancy bunk rooms, pent-up energy and stress has led to a drastic increase in prison riots and deaths. We all know that some innocent people are in prison. What if you or your child becomes one of those people killed in a prison riot for a crime committed by someone else?
By legalizing marijuana, large amounts of money and other resources become free to battle other violent crime, and taxes raised from its production and sale can go toward schools and other programs that might further reduce interest in its use. Studies show most Americans now agree that marijuana is likely less damaging than alcohol, and as more states approve marijuana for medical use, it’s clear most people realize it has some positive utility. Many people say the end of prohibition provided fuel that aided recovery from the Great Depression; maybe this is a good time for marijuana to help the current recovery effort as well.