Marijuana To The Rescue

March 13, 2009 at 9:00 pm (Individualism)

The nice thing about disasters is the opportunity for people to re-acquaint themselves with common sense.  Suddenly, an explosion of common sense is occurring in the media and even among politicians.  Not concerning things like liberty, or sound monetary policy, or sound foreign policy.  But, specifically regarding weed.

First came the shot over the bows from San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.  Proposing that marijuana be regulated and taxed, bringing the state billions in revenue, he introduced some long-overdue legislation that essentially asserts marijuana is no worse than alcohol, and alcohol brings the government big money.  Several economists agree with the premise, pointing to a similar policy enacted during the Great Depression that had positive benefits; revenue, decrease of mob power, and a return to personal liberty: the end of Prohibition.

In fact, the positive economic impact is twofold: the massive revenue aside, the cost savings of not prosecuting and not imprisoning pot smokers is equally gargantuan.  Study after study has concluded we spend far too much on incarceration.  We are, after all, the world’s largest per-capita jailers: one out of every 31 adults is in the corrections system, with more than 1 out of every 100 in prison.

Critics are quick to point out the invisible costs of encouraging marijuana use, from medical costs to crime to lost productivity.  The same criticisms were what caused Prohibition to be established, but, as time went by, most were discovered to be simply scaremongering tactics and completely untrue.  Being as anywhere from 40% to 60% of Americans have used marijuana, depending on the poll, and roughly half support legalization, I’d say the danger can’t be any greater than that of alcohol or tobacco.  In fact, since roughly 85,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year in the US and another 435,000 die from tobacco, and exactly ZERO die from marijana, despite its prevalance, I’d say odds are good the potential negative effects of legalization are miniscule in comparison.

Unrelated, but at the same time very related, the Federal Government signaled it is no longer rabidly, irrationally, opposed to marijuana in all its forms, by announcing it will no longer target sick patients and medical dispensaries in states that have legal provisions for medical use of marijuana.  This is huge. 

In 1996, California voters passed a law that established for the medical use of marijana but the Federal Government decided it had the authority to overrule state law and it continued to arrest and imprison legal users, even terminal cancer patients.  Of course, the last time we had prohibition, we had to actually amend the Constitution of the United States, but due to various devious rulings and interpretations since, the Federal Government somehow decided it had the authority to regulate (read: outlaw) “controlled substances” (read: whatever it wants) without any hindrance (or common sense) so no new Amendment was needed to outlaw pot.

And of course, no objective studies have been done in decades on the effects of marijuana, since you can’t do tests without the physical plant, and the Federal Government refused the plant to any researchers that didn’t show negative effects as a result of the studies.  It’s a great approach — I think the Catholic Church did something similar when those pesky heretics tried to promote the idea the world was round.

Anyway, I digress.  Here’s to the return of common sense.  Hopefully, so-called Conservatives who have been opposed to legalization will question why they vehemently support the Federal Government trampling all over their personal freedoms and imprisoning people at taxpayer expense for the crime of using a drug that is less harmful than aspirin.

Today’s article of doom: the always entertaining Jim Rogers.

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