Most Americans do not want to spend scarcepublic funds incarcerating nonviolent marijuanaoffenders, at a cost of $23,000 per year. Politiciansmust reconsider our country’s priorities and attachmore importance to combating violent crime thantargeting marijuana smokers. Marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers at least$7.
5 billion annually. This is an enormous waste ofscarce federal dollars that should be used to targetviolent crime. Marijuana prohibition makes no exception for themedical use of marijuana. The tens of thousands ofseriously ill Americans who presently use marijuanaas a therapeutic agent to alleviate symptoms ofcancer, AIDS, glaucoma, or multiple sclerosis risk arrest and jail to obtain and use their medication. Between 1978 and 1996, 34 states passed lawsrecognizing marijuana’s therapeutic value. Mostrecently, voters in two states — Arizona andCalifornia — passed laws allowing for the medicaluse of marijuana under a physician’s supervision.Order now
Yet, states are severely limited in their ability toimplement their medical use laws because of thefederal prohibition of marijuana. America tried alcohol prohibition between 1919and 1931, but discovered that the crime andviolence associated with prohibition was moredamaging than the evil sought to be prohibited. Withtobacco, America has learned over the last decadethat education is the most effective way todiscourage use. Yet, America fails to apply theselessons to marijuana policy.
By stubbornly defining all marijuana smoking ascriminal, including that which involves adultssmoking in the privacy of their own homes, we arewasting police and prosecutorial resources, cloggingcourts, filling costly and scarce jail and prison space,and needlessly wrecking the lives and careers ofgenuinely good citizens. Marijuana legalization offers an importantadvantage over decriminalization in that it allows forlegal distribution and taxation of cannabis. In theabsence of taxation, the free market price of legalmarijuana would be extremely low, on the order offive to ten cents per joint. In terms of intoxicatingpotential, a joint is equivalent to at least $1 or $2worth of alcohol, the price at which cannabis iscurrently sold in the Netherlands. The easiest way tohold the price at this level under legalization wouldbe by an excise tax on commercial sales. Anexamination of the external costs imposed bycannabis users on the rest of society suggests that a”harmfulness tax” of $.
50 – $1 per joint is appropriate. It can be estimated that excise taxes in this range would raise between $2. 2 and $6. 4 billion per year. Altogether, legalization would save thetaxpayers around $8 – $16 billion, not counting theeconomic benefits of hemp agriculture and otherspinoff industries.Words / Pages : 388 / 24 .