In the 1930s, America was well into the Great Depression, a time similar to the current economy. President Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933 proposing a plan commonly referred to as the 3Rs: relief, recovery, reform.
Prohibition was an issue similar to the current controversy of the legalization of marijuana. Roosevelt repealed prohibition which brought in more revenue for the government to help boost the economy back on track and he succeeded.
The current crisis calls for history to repeat itself in order for our nation to recover. The possible answers to fill the state deficit are to take money through higher taxes or benefit cuts. However, if we think outside of this traditional box, we can take it out of the multi-billion dollar thriving industry that is not being taxed at all.
We need reform. Marijuana is currently used for medicinal purposes just as alcohol was used in the ‘20s. These are the baby steps required to duplicate successful recovery from our national crisis.
Time and money would be saved through judicial and law enforcement hours that are wasted, to arrest, prosecute and punish marijuana smokers? Wouldn’t we rather punish pedophiles and rapists who are serving fractions of their sentences due to lack of room in jails and prisons. It costs roughly $25,000 per year per prisoner. Obviously if we legalize marijuana we would save millions in costs as well as in profits.
Allow yourself to stop focusing on the smaller issues. The cost of designing rules and regulations for public safety and distribution of marijuana are a minimal issue compared to the benefits of legalization. These issues have time to be ironed out as well as marketing plans, prices and licensing.
We are an intelligent nation; we can iron out details later. The major problem we must focus on is the same that prohibition faced: too many don’t like it.
The economy doesn’t care whether you do or not. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Legalization is the answer if you want the economy to recover.
Legalization would minimize drug trafficking and keep money inside our borders. It would limit gang profits, benefiting schools, elderly, single parents and children, the foster system and several law abiding, deserving citizens who need the relief that Roosevelt promised and delivered.
Gang members like Al Capone, in Roosevelt’s time, have made and continue to make fortunes, unless we stop or tax them. Marijuana is the biggest cash crop in America today whether you or I like it or not.
Drugs: some have been deemed acceptable by our society, others have been deemed overly harmful and outlawed as a result. Marijuana is one such drug, but does it deserve to remain illegal? Some may wonder.
Let us first look at the case made that legalizing marijuana would put the major drug-dealers out of business. If marijuana is simply made unrestricted, sales of it would actually probably increase, as demonstrated when Britain loosened its drug laws in 2002 for six months as an experiment. The result? Cannabis dealers began selling openly without worry, their sales skyrocketing in those few short months. A similar occurrence happened in Alaska which legalized marijuana in the 1970s but recriminalized it in 1990 after it was shown that marijuana use, and thereby sales, amongst the Alaskan youth was double that of the lower 48 states.
If, instead of unrestricted sales, the government sold marijuana as much as it now does hard liquor, only through licensed stores, we would still have to worry about which businesses would begin selling marijuana. Indeed, the only major suppliers for such shops would be south of the border, where the cannabis fields often are at least partially controlled by the drug cartels. Indeed it would not be a stretch of the imagination to picture such cartels setting up legal shops for cannabis in the U.S. to help fund some of their more nefarious enterprises.
It’s also not necessarily cost effective to the government. While some claim selling marijuana would increase tax revenue for federal or state governments, what they forget to mention is the additional money that would then be funded into marijuana education, rehabilitation and health-care.
In addition, according to a white paper by the California Police Chiefs Association’s Task Force on Marijuana Dispensaries, criminal activity, including robbery and murder, increased in areas where there are medical marijuana dispensaries. Which means we would have to spend even more money on law enforcement if marijuana is legalized to help deal with the increase in crime.
It is also argued that marijuana is not addictive or harmful to its users. But it is also known that any powerful mood-altering substance can become addictive, especially for those prone to chemical dependency. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2004 alone, about 300,000 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse. And since it’s smoked, much like a cigarette, it has also been linked with cancer and brain-damage over time. We also know cannabis can cause a slowed reaction time and lethargy, similar to alcohol, which makes it dangerous to use while driving.
To summarize, past evidence shows that when marijuana is legalized usage increases, it has been proven to be addictive and harmful, and it would create new costs that the government must pay if it is legalized. Should it remain illegal? You do the math.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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