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The Economic Case for Legalization and Decriminalization of Marijuana
Marijuana prohibition costs the U.S. government and taxpayers billions of dollars annually.
If we look at the costs of anti-marijuana and marijuana law reform, funding anti-marijuana 'science', interdicting marijuana, eradicating domestically grown marijuana and industrial hemp, law enforcement, prosecuting and incarcerating marijuana smokers the U.S. taxpayers fork over nearly $12 Billion annually.
$12 Billion Dollars per year.
Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement, $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels.
How far could that go to fixing deficits in your local area of the country?
It is the self-evident truth that marijuana prohibition, an utterly failed public policy, costs taxpayers too much and delivers no discernible social benefits.
As President Jimmy Carter told Congress in 1977:
"The National Commission on Marijuana and Abuse concluded years ago that marijuana use should be decriminalized, and I believe it is time to implement those basic recommendations.
Therefore, I support legislation amending federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana."
That was back in 1977.
How far have we come over the past 33 years?
If the $113 billion spent on marijuana were spent on other (legal) consumer goods, it would produce revenue in the form of income taxes, taxes on corporate profits, and social security taxes.
What about the recovery of the American economy?
The American economic situation would improve quickly for some simple reasons:
Farming operations could start to move forward immediately, transportation operations such as trucking and rail could start to see a resurgence as they would suddenly have product and the money to move it, retail and textile operations would see a swift uptick in profit as the cost to purchase produced products would suddenly drop as the Hemp lines would become available as "designer" and large scale scientific companies could start to see the true value of marijuana as they could start to design hybrid (not that the independent underground society has not done this already) plants and species that could have far reaching implications for the medical and commercial applications.
The effect that legalization of marijuana and hemp could have here in the United States far outweighs the old school Christian moral agenda.
We could quickly get a large number of Americans out of jail and quickly get the numbers of the unemployed decreased.
A solid majority of the American public now agree that responsible marijuana smokers should not be treated like criminals. Eight out of ten Americans support the medical use of marijuana, and nearly 3 out of 4 Americans support a fine-only (no jail) for recreational smokers.
Roughly 50% of Americans now favor legalizing and taxing marijuana.
But in a Town Hall style meeting with questions posed both from online sources and from a live audience on March 26, 2009 AT "OPEN FOR QUESTIONS" TOWN HALL from the White House East Room the President stated that he did not agree with the idea of legalizing marijuana and hemp to bolster the American economy.
THE PRESIDENT: Three point five million people voted. I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy -- (laughter) -- and job creation. And I don't know what this says about the online audience -- (laughter) -- but I just want -- I don't want people to think that -- this was a fairly popular question; we want to make sure that it was answered. The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy -- (laughter) -- to grow our economy. (Applause.)
Denver and Breckenridge Colorado have now decriminalized drug paraphernalia, and allow recreational marijuana use. Buying, selling or growing marijuana will remain illegal in Breckenridge as will smoking or displaying it in public. It has just been decriminalized. Residents of Breckenridge voted by a three to one margin in November of 2010 in favour of the change.
Supporters said they wanted to send a message to local police to stop arresting small-time cannabis smokers.
It will be interesting to see how rapidly Breckenridge will now prosper on the news that the first step has been taken. Has anyone heard of a mass outbreak of Twinkie related thefts?
Mexico has gone a little bit further in an effort to move forward. Mexico on Monday, August 24, 2009 eliminated crimes for possession of small amounts of marijuana, LSD, heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine substances. Now individuals can possess up to a half-gram of cocaine and 40 grams of marijuana. The reasoning behind this change was that crackdowns didn't seem to reduce the violence and deaths from the war on drugs.
In the United States, twelve states have legalized medical marijuana for use with a doctor's permission and a medical prescription card or ID. Several states have now decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
United States cannabis laws.
States with medical cannabis laws (7)
States with decriminalization laws (7)
States with both (5)
While keeping in mind that any state law in conflict with federal law is a non-valid law, the following states have taken legal action on a state level.
In Alaska, cannabis was decidedly legal (under state, but not federal, law) for in-home, personal use under the Ravin vs. State ruling of 1975. This ruling allowed up to two ounces (57 g) of cannabis and cultivation of fewer than 25 plants for these purposes. A 1991 voter ballot initiative recriminalized marijuana possession, but when that law was eventually challenged in 2004, the Alaska courts upheld the Ravin ruling, saying the popular vote could not trump the state constitution. However, federal prosecutions under the CSA can be brought in Federal Court, and federal courts applying federal law are not bound by state court precedent. As such, federal courts in Alaska will recognize that possession of any quantity of marijuana remains illegal in Alaska under federal law.
I think it is about time we all change the outdated policy regarding the use and possession of both marijuana and hemp.
Click here to read Part V of this article: The cost of the war against marijuana - the devil weed
Click here to read Part I of this article: Could marijuana and industrial hemp feed our starving economy?
Click here to read Part II of this article: What about industrial hemp and the value it could add to our economic situation?
Click here to read Part III of this article: What about industrial hemp and the value it could add to our economic situation?
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