November 29, 2011 Leave a comment
With the FBI reporting 829,627 arrests for marijuana in the calendar year 2006 and local government’s spending $10.7 billion a year policing, arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning our citizens it might be time to review America’s priorities.
Citizens in the U.S. are using 31,000,000 (31 Million) pounds of marijuana a year which supports a $113 billion dollar a year industry with no end in sight what are we thinking. There is also the loss of $31 Billion dollars per year in lost tax revenue add that to the cost of enforcement the figure goes to almost $42 Billion dollars a year.
There is also the recent phenomenon of nationwide law enforcement agencies not investigating more serious crimes, one to cut their overall crime statistics and two it means they qualify for more government funding for the war on drugs. This is used in concert with drug forfeiture laws which with or without a conviction deprive countless Innocent U.S. citizens of their property, it’s just a win win for law enforcement agencies across the USA and they are cashing in on it.
However this equates to a substandard enforcement of our laws as criminals who commit serious crimes are quite often overlooked. It’s easier to take down a street level marijuana dealer, take their house, car and possessions and sell them at an auction at a profit then to investigate more serious crimes.
If legalization were properly implemented tax revenues would increase. Law enforcement could direct their priorities to fighting real crime and their wasted time could be recaptured. The control of the drug trade by powerful Mexican drug cartels could be greatly extinguished and our government could control the importation and added tax revenue that legalized marijuana would bring to our country.
Just as the U.S. enforces pedophile laws and other offenses against children legislation could be written that would in Fact deter citizens from selling marijuana to those not able to legally have it.
By taking control of the marijuana trade with regulation, import quotas and sales mechanisms our country and its citizens would be better served. This would also in essence put almost $42 billion dollars a year into our nations bank account or $420 billion or almost half a Trillion dollars in a decade.
Prison overcrowding with its associated costs is a problem that states across the nation are grappling with every year. California may have to release 20% of its prison inmates to comply with judicial rulings which address the overcrowding issue. In 2009 the FBI reported 858,408 prosecutions for marijuana or 97.5 arrests per hour. In 1992 the figure was 33 per hour and in 1965 it was 2 per hour but that was before forfeiture laws became such a cash cow.
80% of the property confiscated using this law is from persons never charged with a crime no wonder police departments have changed their priorities. Rather than investigate serious crimes why not go on a shopping spree on the street where you don’t have to pay for anything and even if the property owner gets a lawyer their chance is nil of getting back their property. Even reports of serious crimes are not even being written or never entered into official records to keep crime statistics artificially low, while citizens are being arrested at alarming rates for a spoonful of marijuana, some departments even have marijuana arrest quotas.
When will American citizens see the light and legalize tax and introduce legislation to decriminalize this drug. Yes $7 billion dollars have been generated since 1985 using forfeiture laws but that does not offset all the associated annual costs we are incurring now.
By legalizing marijuana our DEA agents and local law enforcement agencies could redirect their resources to investigating more serious crimes including our Prescription Drug Abuse epidemic. This epidemic is entirely centered in the U.S. as they are legal drugs that are being diverted for illegal sale and destroying lives in the aftermath including many children and teenagers.
I for one would rather have my tax dollars not wasted enforcing marijuana laws and imprisoning those who use it. In my lifetime I have seen that alcohol is a much more destructive drug with devastating consequences attached to its use.
Reading publications across this country there are numerous stories every day on death, assaults and robberies along with other crimes tied to alcohol abuse. In my over than fifty years living in this country I just cannot remember a marijuana user committing these or any other types of crimes because of its use.
Already across the country local governmental agencies are decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana as a cost cutting measures as well as then allowing the local police department to concentrate on more serious crimes. In California along with 15 other states marijuana use is being allowed for certain medical conditions where this use is being taxed and law enforcement time is not being wasted on these marijuana users.
Especially in our current economic state the USA could put our tax dollars to better use. Not spending over $10 billion dollars a year on prosecuting these people would make good economic sense. Realizing $31 billion dollars in tax revenue per year while at the same time taking control over the importation of this drug from Mexican drug cartels, this would also be an excellent road to travel for our country.
Let’s consider readjusting our priorities by legalizing marijuana along with controlling importation and realizing an economic benefit from the tax revenue it would produce. Incorporated into the legalization I cannot imagine anyone who could argue against harsh laws with accompanying imprisonment of anyone who would attempt to sell marijuana to those not of legal age.
Our youth can be protected by strict comprehensive laws while our law enforcement agencies could go back to investigating and prosecuting serious crimes. The national deficit which is at an all time high thanks to the Bush administration could breathe a little easier. American citizens who were really never big time criminals could be released from incarceration which would reduce prison overcrowding. Then those existing prisons could house serious criminals and our courts would also get relief not having to take the time to prosecute those who use marijuana.
Allowing police to investigate serious crime, not imprisoning non-criminals, reducing the federal deficit and giving overall economic relief to all the states in this country, now that is a smart policy move that Americans could get behind.
Sounds like legalizing marijuana is the smartest move the United States could take and all of us would better served both economically, legally and we could also protect our children.