Marijuana use, growth, and sale should be legal in the United States of America. This goes far beyond the ethical implications of the matter– you know, parents fearing the worst for their children who have been exposed to marijuana, assaulted by the forces of reefer madness– regardless of an individual’s personal proclivities regarding the use of weed. More than 50% of the country wants marijuana to be legal. These are the most important reasons why.
Since its inception, the War on Drugs has been a complete and utter failure. Millions of Americans have been arrested for little more than toking in the wrong place at the wrong time. It has led to a massive funneling of resources out of the United States and into the hands of crackpot banana republics unable to handle their own issues even with our help. In 2010 the United States spent approximately $15 billion in the War on Drugs. At the time of publishing, the Federal and State governments of this nation had already spent that amount. This is an egregious waste of money, made worse by the fact that it seems to be a never ending struggle without any discernible improvement.
Legalization of cannabis would immediately create a growing home supply– a sure-fire way to stem foreign suppliers– and make it far easier to regulate than it is now. In most states that have not produced legalization legislation, the source of the weed is largely an unknown quantity. There is some indication that as much as two thirds of the marijuana sold and consumed in the United States comes from Mexico, ferried across the border by violent drug cartels. The sale of this and other illicit drugs has fueled a war between the Mexican government and the cartels, and has led to the potential of Mexico to become a failed state, undermined by the sheer profitability of the drug trade.
Legalization would completely undermine this black market. When given a choice between purchasing potent locally grown product, or some craziness from Mexico, most people would support local. They would know exactly what they were purchasing, they would be able to purchase in a safe environment, and they would be able to contribute directly back into that economy. Undermining the black market would make it much more difficult for minors to gain access to marijuana, as the vast majority of sales would take place in a similar fashion to alcohol or tobacco. Of course they would still get their grubby industrious hands on the reefer if they were ambitious, but their options would be safer, as would the product.
Right now, the black market for sales of marijuana in the United States is estimated to create a revenue of up to $120 billion. Much of that goes to locals, but the majority of the profits leave the country and line the gilded pockets of the cartels. Legalization, in the case of Colorado, has led to a growth in local business and a boost in the economy of the state. The unemployment rate has gone down, and the taxing of marijuana sales has created a new revenue stream for the government. In 2014, the first year of legalization, the government was able to raise $53 million in tax revenue from marijuana. That’s a hell of a lot of money from an economy that didn’t even exist the year before.
Over half of all drugs related arrests in the United States are for marijuana connected offenses. That represents a huge amount of money and resources being spent on policing and incarcerating people who may otherwise be productive. Now this all sounds lovely to the prison system, which thrives on having fresh blood rammed into the cells, but for most aspects of society it is a terrible outcome that divides families and destroys lives. Think about it: an average person who is caught smoking weed probably has a job. Even if it is a low paying job, they are doing something productive for their boss, and raising tax revenue for the government. Taking that person out of the equation and putting them into a cell creates a deficit for both their boss and the government: the boss because he now has to spend his time and resources finding a replacement for that position; and the government because they have now lost any income tax from that person. Further, by taking an individual and putting them in prison, they are no longer taking their hard earned cash and reinvesting in the system by buying stuff. Let’s face it. Wouldn’t you rather have the police of this great nation actually doing real police work instead of preying on people who are a very low risk to the safety of the population?
Perhaps one of the most glaring issues with the prohibition of marijuana is that it has made proper studying and analysis of the plant more difficult. Many theories have been published, but actual clinical trials have been challenging to conduct. This problem has thankfully been losing traction due to the legalization movement, but it still means that a great many people are unable to benefit from the potential health advantages inherent in the cannabis plant. Imagine how many more advances would be made in medicine if scientists and doctors had unfettered access to the plant, and were able to study all aspects of it without fear of reprisal from any government agency or organization. It would potentially open an entirely new segment of the pharmaceuticals market, with a corresponding boost to the economy.
Given all the potential benefits to society, it is easy to see why marijuana should be legalized. It is encouraging that many states have moved forward with the legalization process, but the fight is far from over. Hit the streets, make some noise, and let the world know what you want.
Until next time, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.