Weed Wackers

Those of you who read regularly know just how wrongheaded I think the "war" on drugs is. Today, a little newsflash from Alternet on one particularly pernicious front in that war--the battle over cannabis:

"In a November 2002 letter to the nation's prosecutors, the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) didn't bother beating around the proverbial bush. "No drug matches the threat posed by marijuana," began the letter from Scott Burns, deputy director for state and local affairs.

The truth of the matter, as reiterated throughout that letter in terse language, was that marijuana was an addictive and dangerous drug linked to violent behavior on the part of users. To make matters worse, a subtle but powerful threat was identified as exacerbating the problem: well-financed and deceptive campaigns to normalize and ultimately legalize the use of marijuana.

Prosecutors were instructed to keep in mind the crucial importance of their role in fighting this threat of normalization in going after traffickers and dealers, and to tell the truth about marijuana to their communities: "The truth is that marijuana legalization would be a nightmare in America."

And did the dutiful little prosecutors head the call? Oh you bet. Here are some of the results:

--There are roughly 30,000 prisoners doing time for marijuana-related charges.

--the U.S. drug control budget grew from $65 million in 1969 to nearly $19.2 billion in 2003, and we are now spending nearly 300 times more on drug control than just 35 years ago.

--marijuana-related arrests added up to nearly half of 1.5 million drug-related arrests annually and marijuana arrests actually increased by 113 percent between 1990 and 2002, while overall arrests in the nation decreased by 3 percent.

--Of the marijuana arrests in 2002, nearly 9 in 10 were for possession, not dealing or trafficking.

--In fact, traffickers and dealers were actually getting shorter prison terms than those sentenced on possession charges: People sentenced for trafficking received a median of 9 months in prison, while those sentenced for possession received a median of 16 months in prison.

--The annual cost of marijuana criminalization? $5.1 billion in 2000.

--Replacing the current criminalization model with one of taxation and regulation (not unlike that used for alcohol), he projected, would produce combined savings and tax revenues of $10-14 billion per year.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


Anonymous said...

Yes, and it would also be accompanied by social costs comparable to those incurred by the abuse of alcohol-- missed work, drunk driving deaths and injuries-- tell us how much we'd "save" after those costs are factored in.

Marijuana in my view does not inevitably lead to hard drug use, but very few people use the hard stuff without having gone through marijuana first. A substance that has no purpose beyond getting the user stoned is of no social value and should be banned.

Windypundit said...

Well, for one thing, "missed work" is not a social cost. People who miss work don't get paid. Sure, the goods or services they would have produced are lost, but that's okay, because their decline in income cause them to consume fewer goods and services. It all evens out.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, I'm sure glad that we all agree that thinks that have no social use shoudld be banned. How about lets outlaw Fundamentalist Islam and mandate hippy Unitarianism becausee the one arguable had more social utility than the other. Big, expensive, luxury cars serve no purpose. Go to prison or trade it in for a Kia. Chocolate? It ain't medicinal and it provokes the brain to produce those nasty little pleasure-inducing endorphins. Teddy bears? Pets? All they do is give comfort and pleasure and we all no that pleasure has no social value.

SPOHNZ said...
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