the war on pot

A Cannabis sativa leaf.Image via Wikipedia

My brother has been living in California for the last couple of years.  We have talked many times about the politics in California, the diversity of the state, the short-fall of the budget ( like every other state ).  The question both of us have asked since the pot stores have opened on streets corners across the state is how much money could the state reap if marijuana was legalized? 

All the hoopla over legalizing pot, to me, is ridiculous.  Conversations range from drug abuse to the Federal Government continuing to pursue even small time dealers no matter what the outcome at the polls in November.  The answers I am interested in are the points that Nicholas Kristof writes about in his editorial in the New York Times today.

I want to know the numbers.  How much tax revenue will be generated with legalizing pot?  How much money will be saved in the "war on the drugs"?  How much money will be saved in the police department because the cops can use their time focusing on crimes of more significance.  Kristof points out that over 750,000 Americans are arrested each year for a small possession of marijuana.  That is astounding. How much does that cost our system not only for housing people in jail but the havoc is wreaks on families if the major bread winner is hauled off to jail for a small bag of pot they smoke at night.  Needless to say, more African-Americans are arrested by sevenfold as compared to the white population.  BTW, that does not mean that more African-Americans are smoking pot it just means that they are the ones being arrested. 

There is no doubt that for certain people smoking marijuana can lead to harder drug abuse.  Yet, in areas where pot has been legalized such as Amsterdam and even Portland, Oregon there has not been a significant increase in drug abuse.

I believe the pro's outweigh the cons.  Legalizing pot makes for a huge cash surplus which this country needs badly.  I am not so sure it is any different than prohibition.  After all, alcohol is the worst drug ever if abused and it is legal. 

In the Times today there was also an article about all the marijuana url's being snapped up for the possible future of pot being sold online.  Pretty damn smart.  I actually do believe that in my lifetime we will see that happen.  Call me crazy. 

I totally agree with Kristof as he ends his editorial with "One advantage of our federal system is that when we have a failed policy, we can grope for improvements by experimenting at the state level. I hope California will lead the way on Tuesday by legalizing marijuana."



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