Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Legalize?

Every major commission, over more than a century, has found that the costs of prohibition outweigh the benefits. At a time when schools and health care are gasping for funding, how do you justify spending the money on prohibition?

It’s like a form of rot. Now people have treatment programs for a non-existent “marijuana addiction”. The Feds audited one of these treatment programs in 2007 and found that one in ten hadn’t used pot in the previous year, and more than one in three hadn’t used it in the previous month. Naturally, the treatment people are always warning us of the terrible dangers if pot is legalized.

As for whether big business makes a bundle on pot prohibition, the ‘third rail’ nature of the issue should tell you they do. You might think beer and tobacco companies would hurt the worst, but actually big drug companies are making the most. A months supply of Dromolol for a cancer patient costs over $600. Anti-spasmodics, pain relievers, anti-depressants, anti-emetics- add it up and you’re talking money that makes brewery revenues look like “small beer”.

Drug prohibition is what you call a multi-dimensional problem. It provides funding for gangs and terrorists. Some of the money is used to bribe policemen, prosecutors, and legislators. It prevents the use of cheap and effective medications. It expands the presence of the police and has made Swiss cheese of our Bill of Rights. It costs a lot of money which, like bad DNA, replicates expenses, turning ordinary people into hardened criminals condemned to “treatment” for an addiction they don’t have.

And those were the “successes” of prohibition. On the negative side we have the destruction of the family by long prison terms- seeding an entire generation of sub-par performance, poverty, and in all likelihood, abuse of legal substances.

The cost over the past 30 years- over a trillion dollars- would have been sufficient to build solar and wind power for the entire US- even with the less efficient technology of the past. If we had done this, the world would be coming to us to buy, and we would be lending them money, instead of the sadly reverse situation in which we find ourselves.

Maybe the California prison guards have the most realistic take on the matter- presidents come and presidents go, but as long as pot is illegal, the prison guards will have a veto on the California governor. And that’s something they’re ready to fight for.

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