Nationally Legalized Marijuana
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"
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.
Percentage of Inmates
Weapons, Explosives, Arson
Extortion, Fraud, Bribery
Burglary, Larceny, Property Offenses
Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping Offenses
Banking and Insurance, Counterfeit, Embezzlement
Courts or Corrections
Continuing Criminal Enterprise
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!