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Nationally Legalized Marijuana

Updated on January 20, 2015

Current Status

Recreational use of marijuana has been legal in Colorado and Washington since 2012 and no disasters have resulted. For 2015, Alaska and Oregon have followed suit, and the sky still isn’t falling yet! In fact, marijuana currently is legal in some way (recreational or medical) in 23 states. (1)

We are just not winning the “war on drugs”. However, the U.S. continues to spend $20 to $25 billion annually on this losing effort (2, 3 & 4). A change is needed in all of the states and here is why.

Historical Success of the "War on Drugs"

Incarceration Timeline
Incarceration Timeline | Source

Prison Population

The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that almost HALF of the US prison population consists of drug offenders (5). Releasing the marijuana offenders would immediately result in smaller prison populations and in turn relieve a huge financial burden of supporting these non-violent offenders in prison.

Additionally, with fewer incarcerated marijuana offenders, there would be more prison capacity for violent offenders. More space would minimize the necessity of early release for violent offenders. Reducing early release makes us safer because violent criminals would actually serve the time they have been sentenced to serve.

(click column header to sort results)
Offense  
Percentage of Inmates  
Drug Offenses
48.7%
Weapons, Explosives, Arson
16.0%
Immigration
10.1%
Sex Offenses
6.8%
Extortion, Fraud, Bribery
6.2%
Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses
4.0%
Robbery
3.7%
Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping Offenses
2.9%
Miscellaneous
.08%
Banking and Insurance, Counterfeit, Embezzlement
0.4%
Courts or Corrections
0.4%
Continuing Criminal Enterprise
0.2%
From the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Data Last Updated: Saturday, 29 November 2014) (5)
Source

The National Debt

The national debt is over $18 trillion and it continues to grow (6). Without potentially massive program cuts specifically directed to pay down the debt, history proves the rising debt trend will continue. In the meantime, the federal government keeps spending with no end in sight.

For every political election season, taxes are invariably publicized again - less taxes for all - which solves nothing. Political Incumbents are certainly not willing to advocate cutting popular social programs because it would certainly mean political suicide. Although cutting federal spending alone would not be enough anyway to get us out of debt within a reasonable amount of time.

It does not take rocket science to figure out and influx of capital is needed and needed soon. The simple solution is 2-fold:

  • Tax the legalized marijuana sales (Remember how alcohol and cigarettes are taxes?)
  • Repurpose the huge amounts of federal funds currently used for the supposed “war on drugs”

Summary and Call to Action

This article is not intended to encourage misuse of drugs – legal or currently illegal ones. Instead it is intended to encourage everyone to take a step back and look at contemporary situations realistically.

Too many of our citizens are jailed for being caught exercising personal preferences. Not to sound trite, but it used to be alcohol, now it is marijuana. Huge sums of money continue to be wasted on the losing "war on drugs" when these funds could be redirected in much needed areas - like paying down the national debt. Finally, the new revenue opportunities are as plain as the nose on a face. Besides new tax revenues, there is much potential for new business development of related products, and therefore even job creation.

Assuming the process still works as designed, call and write your elected officials. Do not let up. The time for action is now!

Financial Future?

The current (2015) National Debt is almost twice as much as this 2009 depiction
The current (2015) National Debt is almost twice as much as this 2009 depiction | Source

Marijuana Vote

Are you for or against the legalization for recreational marijuana?

See results

Comments

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    • Peyton Parker profile imageAUTHOR

      Peyton Parker 

      3 years ago from San Antonio, TX

      Hi Dawn! I really appreciate your comments! I also do not use marijuana but I really wish our lawmakers and federal leaders would look at this issue with open eyes!

    • DawnMSamora profile image

      DawnM Samora 

      3 years ago from Akron, Ohio

      Hi Peyton,

      Great Hub all around! I agree with you completely when it comes to this topic. Our nation could be making money instead of losing it. Wow, and your percentages! That tells it all right there.

      I don't smoke marijuana, but I do not think of it as a serious crime. I think you're right how legalizing marijuana could release us as a nation from a lot of debt.

      Thank you for writing about this :) -DawnM

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