Marijuana policies deserve rewriting

Across the States, legislators on both sides of the political spectrum are advocating for the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana. It has already happened in Colorado and Washington for recreational use, and as for medicinal use, 21 states have legalized it.

Americans have, over the last decade, become more and more in favor of the legalization of marijuana, in both recreation and medical uses. A poll by CNN research shows that 55 percent of Americans want marijuana legalized, where only 44 percent don’t. That is up 12 points from last year, when a majority of Americans were opposed to the decriminalization of cannabis.

The big argument for those who oppose it is health, but how many people have died from a marijuana overdose? Zero. Not one person has ever had so much pot that he or she keeled over and died. This alone is enough to show that pot is quite a bit safer than most pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol; the Center for Disease Control said that 105 people each day die from pharma overdose and alcohol is responsible for 75,000 deaths a year. Let’s reiterate how many people have died from marijuana: zero, zilch, nada, not one.

That being said, marijuana possession and use is a victimless crime. All of the violence related to marijuana can be traced back to the prohibition of the plant, and if it were to be legalized, we would see a drop in prison numbers and violence in relation to pot. Realistically, that doesn’t mean all violence over marijuana would be gone, but, for comparison, there are still people who fight about who gets the last glass of Jack. Overall, however, legalizing marijuana would slash prison numbers astronomically because one would no longer have to go through shady deals and the possibility of getting jumped.

The fact that cannabis is illegal while alcohol isn’t is a major hypocrisy. We hear almost daily of some drunk guy driving and hurting others, then they hold the guy responsible: good. Some high guy gets in a car, crashes and hurts another person, it’s the plant’s fault. Marijuana consumption in and of itself is a victimless crime; what happens after that is at the fault of the person, just like misusing alcohol.

The United States incarcerates a huge amount of people who smoke or possess pot. The FBI estimates that one marijuana arrest happens every 42 seconds in the States, and that 750,000 people were arrested in 2011 for that.

Also, marijuana legalization would have an amazing effect on the U.S. economy. The Department of Justice released that inmates on pot-related charges cost taxpayers $1 billion annually. Forbes reported in 2007 that the marijuana prohibition cost taxpayers $41.8 billion. The enforcement costs alone are astronomical; $20 billion a year. That number comes from the amount it would save to end enforcement and adding the tax revenue, which both are equal $8.7 billion a year. In the grand scheme of things, that is not a huge amount, but that money could go to places that need it more. The only money pot users need is a couple bucks to get some munchies.

Overall, the war on drugs, specifically the war on marijuana, has failed. It costs too much and people still smoke it; 83 million people over the age of 12 have smoked it once, and it’s estimated that 18.3 million people smoke regularly. Put a bit of perspective on that: if we gathered all the ganja smokers into one area, it would fill the cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia and Miami.

So imagine all of those people buying pot legally, with Cheetos also making a massive sales, and how astronomically high the profits would be for the business and the amount of money generated from taxes. The benefits outweigh the losses, and regardless of personal opinion, it’s undeniable that the prohibition is failing, so why not make it legal and reap the benefits?

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