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Legalizing Weed in New York

Updated on August 1, 2012

What is the War on Drugs?

President Richard Nixon adopted the term 'War on Drugs' in 1971, as he used it to describe the current state of the US. Where government is involved in what is literally a war against people caught with drugs. Punishments are severe and installed to set an example. Under these ideologies, the mandatory minimum for those caught with marijuana is 2-10 years. For good reason these policies are now being recognized as far from productive.

Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg.  With a net worth of 22 billion dollars, he stands as America's 11th richest person
Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. With a net worth of 22 billion dollars, he stands as America's 11th richest person

America's Favorite Drug

Marijuana possession constitutes 45.8% of all drug arrests

In 2012 we arrested 10.1 million people for possession and 1.4 million for sales and trafficking of weed

Moderate Marijuana use is associated with a decrease in HNSCC, head and neck cancer

What’s the point in spending all this money arresting ussers when from 1995-2010 the number of marijuana arrests has only increased every year?

You can’t overdose on marijuana, although I don't suggest running out and consuming large amounts of it!

Will marijuana be legal someday; just like alcohol?

85% of drug offenses in New York are served by poor minorities.But the majority of drug users are not poor minorities; white, upper class, citizens do drugs just as much, if not more often. Due to the common nature of these statistics, the over-policing of poor neighborhoods have been scrutinized for years. We place more cops in poor, inner-city areas because we know that poverty has a relationship with crime. In reaction to this, we spend more money trying to punish crime than crime could ever cost us. Mr. Bloomberg, as any good Mayor should, has caught onto this phenomena occurring in his own city. New York spends 75 million dollars a year on marijuana charges; the drug itself could never cost the city this much alone! Already a semi-legal drug in certain states, the absurdity of spending this much money on criminalizing marijuana seems absurd and out of line with what’s actually productive. Just as the war on drugs has done since its installment, it takes more than it gives.

The War on Drugs has done nothing to help us as a society. Sure, drugs can be portrayed as evil horrible things only done by the spawns of the devil but that’s how we got to a place where the polices tied to the War on Drugs are justifiable. We lock up any and all caught 'using' and sit them under heavy penalties with long-standing records. But most of us know someone who does or has done drugs- recreationally or as a painful addiction. That person isn’t likely evil, in fact, if massively out of control due to their addiction they are rather sad- in need of a warm hug, not a cold night in jail.

It’s our prisons that are having the last laugh, spitting out people expensively unchanged. Our societal investment in prisons are as secure as one with Bernie Madoff. In other words, the moment we invest our tax dollars into crime control it is gone, eaten by the prisons to never be seen again. In fact, the money spent on prisoners each year is only going up and prediction charts show inflation beyond control in the years to come.

We are so terrified of crime that we will pay anything to keep it locked away. What people fail to realize is that we are spending more money on jails than on our public education system. Children who do poorly in school are more likely to end up in jail; therefore, if we slack on education we are only maintaining the cycle of incoming prisoners.Are we willing to continue sacrificing our children’s education in the name of paying 25k a year to house each inmate? Especially knowing this sacrifice will never pay off?

If Mayor Bloomberg’s bill is passed, a fine of up to $100 will be given to violators caught with one ounce or less of pot instead of a criminal misdemeanor. This will save New York a tremendous amount of money as well as generate funds; the city will make money off of offenders instead of spending money on them! No matter the sanctions, drugs will always be used by humans- it’s encoded in human genes to seek alteration of the mind weather that be through coffee, prescription pills, cocaine, marijuana, or a few shots of tequila. It’s all ingested with the same goal, only some drugs are stigmatized and others are not. Just as some people may get away with doing drugs and others cannot. The Mayor is quick to point out the majority being punished for drugs do not make up the majority of users, making the punishments unfairly distributed to begin with.

Proven insufficient, the war on drugs is still in effect. Even worse, the US has expanded their ideologies onto less powerful Countries, forcing them to adapt the same drug policies or else lose potent US funding. In return, these abiding Countries have found their prison allowances bloated, subsequently throwing the rest of their economy out of whack... just like the US.

Rehabilitation has been proven the best method to help drug users. Job training, life skills, counseling; these are the real remedies suited for our emotional bodies and minds. Jail is a corrective measure that works for very few criminals yet has been hired for all; this is an expensive short cut we can’t afford to keep making. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for his controversial decision to decriminalize marijuana; he has successfully drawn much needed attention to the growing debate over the effectiveness of our current drug policies.


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