"Marijuana is the (Mexican cartels') cash crop, the cash cow," says Brittany Brown of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Washington office, which does not advocate legalizing pot. Marijuana is cheap to grow and requires no processing.
Some argue that if you legalize marijuana there would still be a black market. They say that because the product is so cheap to produce, the black market could under price legal pot and sell to kids. But consider what we know about alcohol.
• First, Prohibition didn't work.
• Second, even though alcohol sales are regulated, back-alley or school-yard sales of moonshine is not a billion-dollar problem.
• Third, alcohol, like its addictive killer-cousin tobacco, is taxed, which helps cover its costs to society. Not so with marijuana.
After decades of anti-pot campaigns, from Reefer Madness to zero tolerance, so many Americans choose to smoke marijuana that the Mexican cartels have become an international threat to law and order. Instead of paying taxes on their vice, pot smokers are enriching thugs and murderers. The DEA says cartels are "poly-drug organizations" that routinely smuggle cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and precursor chemicals through our state. "(But) marijuana generates the most profit," Sanchez says.
TPJ: Legalizing or at least decriminalizing and regulating Marijuana would put a major dent in the power, control and reach of the illegal drug trade:
At a House panel hearing last week, Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., figured $15 billion to $25 billion in annual profits from U.S. drug sales bankroll Mexican cartels purchases of guns from America. "The profits and guns - and drug precursors in some cases - then find their way back across the border to Mexico and fuel the increasing violence." About 500,000 people are in prison in the United States for drug offenses on any given day. Piper says 800,000 people a year are arrested on marijuana charges, the vast majority for simple possession.
TPJ: This clogs up our jails, prisons and courts with non-violent pot offenders who are taking up places that should be reserved and available to real criminals such as child molesters and rapists who end up doing less time because of the crowding. So we have a border war, missing out on tax dollars and clogging up our prison system all because we won't legalize a plant. I would submit that many of the opponents of legalization of marijuana haven't even smoked it.
Yet they demonize it as it if is is meth--which is the REAL drug problem. Having a joint after a long day is not different than having a couple glasses of wine except it's better on your stomach than alcohol, with no hang-over and it's less addictive than alcohol. In fact marijuana is not physically addictive at all. You can smoke pot for a month and quit the next day for good if you want to:
In 2005, economist Jeffrey A. Miron put together a report suggesting that if marijuana were taxed at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco, legal sales would raise $6.2 billion a year. California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Democrat from San Francisco, is trying to get his state to legalize marijuana for adult use, set up a state licensing system and levy a tax that some say could raise $1 billion a year.
TPJ: Think of what that could to for the slumping California economy, which is an economy bigger than that of some countries. So instead of wasting $40 billion a year that we sink into fighting the marijuana trade to no end but an escalating border war. We could instead make money from it--up to $6.2 billion that could be used to help fund a new health care system. And in the process drastically reduce drug related crime. It seems like a no brainer to decriminalize marijuana. The fight to keep it illegal is simply costing too much in blood and treasure.
This is also why a war on drugs is unwinnable. You'd think a country built on capitalism would understand basic laws of supply and demand. Instead, a failed and irrational national policy blunders forward, costing billions, incarcerating large numbers of people and enriching ruthless crime syndicates.