brotherpeacemaker

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When will America do something about the irrationality of our drug laws?  Specifically, when will America address the draconian approach it takes towards punishing people who indulge in a little marijuana smoking?  This is an issue I’d like to be brought to the fore front.  With all the talk about the United States taking a more sensible approach towards fighting the trafficking of drugs, it is important that we identify the drugs that are truly damaging to our culture compared to drugs that we simply believe are damaging to our culture.  Marijuana happens to be one of those drugs that is believed to be more damaging than it really is.

I actually read in a Time Magazine article that something close to fifty percent of all arrests are marijuana related.  Of the sixty eight billion dollars per year spent on corrections and incarcerations, nearly twenty three billion dollars of it is spent punishing people for getting caught taking a toke.  Of the one hundred fifty billion dollars America spends prosecuting criminals nearly seventy five billion is spent prosecuting cases of people suspected of refer madness.  America holds twenty five percent of the world’s prison population which means we single handedly put over twelve percent of the world’s prison population away for doing a doobie.

With annual estimated revenues approaching fourteen billion, it is widely believed that the cannabis is the largest cash crop in California.  The statewide sales tax is 8.25%.  If the state legalized pot and sales remained flat, California would enjoy well over a billion dollars in additional revenue.  Combined with the additional revenue saved from not prosecuting stoners the state would have a huge incentive to do things differently.  But then, knowing how tourism would suddenly skyrocket from people trying to get a little legalized ganja and California’s budget problems will literally go up in smoke.  The economic impact would result in thousands of agricultural jobs, tourism jobs, cannabis cafes, and the like.  And let’s not forget the additional revenue from an increase in snack sales like Twinkies and Ding Dongs.

Recently, the White House had a presidential forum in which President Obama answered questions submitted by the public.  Many of the questions asked were directly associated with the legalization of marijuana at the federal level.  Mr. Obama flat out dismissed the legalization question with a simple, unequivocal “no” without the slightest thought put behind the politically orthodox response.  The way Mr. Obama responded you’d think he was back on the campaign trail and somebody asked him to pay a visit to an institution that firmly supported the black community first and foremost.

Mr. Obama admitted he experimented with drugs.  His predecessor, former President Bill Clinton, admitted he indulged, although that line about not inhaling was utter bullshit for the sake of minimizing the full political repercussions associated with his admission.  More than likely the next President will admit to a little indulgence as well.  Why do we continue to take such an over the top response to marijuana when more and more of our political leaders admit to trying it at one time or another.  Mr. Obama didn’t have a problem with giving up pot but struggles to control his addiction to tobacco cigarettes.  If this is true then it sounds like his focus for controlling an addictive substance is misplaced.

There are a lot of people who are down on cannabis who have never tried cannabis.  I have to admit that if it wasn’t for fear of losing my job I’d be outside taking a toke right now.  The only problem I have with marijuana is the way people drool at the mouth at the chance to bust somebody for being a pot smoker.  And yet, we turn and look the other way when we see so many people consume mass quantities of alcohol at the expense of their personal health.

Marijuana is sometimes referred to as a gateway drug.  If we as a society make the mistake of letting people use marijuana people will be encouraged to try other stronger things.  But the same is true about other behavior modifying substances.  The same is true about liquor, beer, modeling glue, household aerosols, prescriptions, and over the counter drugs.  Why does marijuana continue to be the exception that requires the heaviest of handed approaches?

Is chronic harmless?  No it probably isn’t.  What is?  Too much of anything will be a detriment to your health.  Too many trips to the doughnut store will affect your health.  Too much coffee will impact your behavior.  Where is the prudence in this topic?  The only serious arguments against marijuana are the ones that are assumed to be virtuous or righteous.  People believe that legalized marijuana is debilitating.  But it can also be debilitating to thoughtlessly follow drug policy simply under the guise that something could be abused or because that’s the way we’ve always done it.  The costs of keeping people who smoke marijuana on the fed’s most wanted list appears to be debilitating as well.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - Posted by | Barack Obama, Life, Politics, Thoughts |

8 Comments »

  1. “With annual estimated revenues approaching fourteen billion, it is widely believed that the cannabis is the largest cash crop in California. The statewide sales tax is 8.25%. If the state legalized pot and sales remained flat, California would enjoy well over a billion dollars in additional revenue.”

    Personally I think estimate on tax revenue created by marijuana would be way less, without hyper-growth of the product. The $14 billion they estimate is at black market prices. Legalize the stuff, you’ll see a dramatic downward trend in prices. Add in the FDA, and you’ll have less people spiking a bag for extra profit. You could safely assume, I believe that sales from California would still be around $1-3Billion tops, with current production, leaving less for tax revenues, BUT, it would reduce costs of law enforcement needs, incarceration, judicial system costs, and the like, while providing an additional revenue stream.

    Now my self, the product of a hippie, once partook of the product, however, for me, it was rather debilitating, and often left me more bored with a bunch of stoners than my normally over exuberant self normally operated. Uppers were my thing, which I avoided because I liked the effects way too much! but honestly, if they legalized it, I would have no problem with it. Who knows, if productivity dropped off so bad, maybe employers would pay higher premium to guys like me who were willing to work for our paychecks! (wishful thinking I know!)

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

      But I’m not sure everyone suffers debilitating affects from having a toke or two. Like I said, Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton did it and they both went on to become president. Then again whoever said the president did a lot of work? Anybody can indulge in anything to the point of being overwhelmed. I think the key is to know your limits and respect them, as well as yourself.

      Peace

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. Marijuana [has never] killed a single person yet tobacco and alcohol both have killed hundreds of thousands of people yet they are legal. I say to legalize marijuana simply on that fact alone.

    Love your blog!

    XOXO
    MaryJane

    http://maryjanethinks.wordpress.com

    Comment by maryjane17 | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback maryjane17,

      If anything it’s the lack of smoke that kills people.

      Peace

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Reply

  3. Well, my debilitation wasn’t so much from mere toking (albeit I was quite the lightweight), as much as it was the association I was stuck with (clearly potheads to the Nth degree!), and my refusal to go out driving around while under its influence (call it respecting my responsibilities)

    My one year in college, two of the top three posts in my fraternity house were marijuana smokers, and while having a meeting over my having smoked in the house, gave themselves up as perfect examples of why it doesn’t cause leadership and decision making abilities, which was espoused by another member of the house who wasn’t of the potsmoking variety, who bought all the anti-marijuana hype, hook line and sinker.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Reply

  4. My parents and all their pothead freinds indulged in “weed” back in the 70’s and neither of them ever was unemployed nor was able to take care of their responsibilities. I understand that you will have kooks who will not be able to control themselves. But we already have that with things such as food addictions or video game addictions.

    Certain people will be addicted to anything and everything. Ganja never killed anybody like maryjane17 said. If anything people were too relaxed to stop someone from killing them. And then again if the person who did the killing had taken a toke maybe he/she wouldn’t have been killing others.

    Well, imho I think that it would be no different than Amsterdam and they don’t have some out of control crime, hard drug or unemployment rates. It just seems stupid to continue to allow things such as alcohol or cigarettes while criminalizing something that is the lesser problem.

    Also, I watched a special on the herb and saw that a lot of lobbying was going on to ban the substance and all its relatives in order to stop its relatives from taking over the synthetic markets. Those weeds can be made into just about anything from clothes to ropes. So we know this goes beyond a bunch of people being scared their kids will turn into Cheech and Chong.

    Thanks.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Reply

  5. No such thing as a gateway drug, only gateway users.

    Comment by agent_jack | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Reply

  6. I remember hearing years ago that some liquor companies registered names like “Acapulco Gold” so that if marijuana ever became legalized they’d own the popular brand name. Maybe an urban legend, but I’m already imagining the billboards, and maybe there’d be “state stores” or “package stores” in some states to sell the stuff, and probably no marijuana sales on Sunday morning.

    But anything you burn and smoke has got to be bad for your health, even if it has some medicinal use, so then we’d have to keep it out of restaurants and workplaces to prevent people suffering from second-hand smoke.

    I’m also remembering the strange parties from the early 1970s where no one had a coherent thought, and all in all it’s not something I’d encourage but neither is it something I’d criminalize.

    Comment by Betsy | Tuesday, April 7, 2009 | Reply


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