Published on October 15th, 20120
Pot’litics: Should America End its Marijuana War?
The war on drugs, a phrase coined in the 1980’s, has resulted in approximately half of America’s adult and adolescent population being incarcerated, at the cost of tax payer dollars. At a time when State budgets are facing touch economic decisions, in a nation that constantly reminds the world that it believes in human rights, freedom and liberty for all, the United States leads any other nation in its own citizens being incarcerated, more than any other country in the world, simply because of our nation’s federal drug policies
Its interesting, as we observe our nation’s war on marijuana, that a nation as powerful and as sophisticated as the United States, is still fighting a prohibition of marijuana, which dramatically affects the lives of millions of Americans daily, particularly resulting in the over-incarceration of Black and Latino males.
This war actually costs the American tax payers millions if not billions, directly affecting the city, state and federal governments budgets, when accounting for dollars spent on the legal and correctional system, including Police, probation officers, judges, jails, prisons and lawyer fees adding to what already is a massive industrial complex. At a time when unemployment still rest in record high digits and the free market is being challenged by Washington’s liberal agenda, simple Marijuana policy distracts and takes away limited resources from an already delicate economy. The question lies, what is America’s priority for stimulating the economy, and will this be in effect if the current drug policies remain, further resulting in people being removed from their families, spouses, etc. The specific opportunity costs of distracting law enforcement from homicidal criminal activity to deal with small, impotent marijuana related cases are a major problem for inner cities. Furthermore, States have long forgotten the substance’s industrial advantage, which could potentially have a significant recreational effect as a revenue stimulating crop for the countries farming industry.
Let’s not forget that policymakers have not taken into full consideration the effortless ability to purchase “cannabis” on the streets and the high supply and demand associate with marijuana, creating an instant elastic opportunity for distributors, sellers and purchasers. As a Conservative, the marijuana drug war, or lack thereof, is foreign to the ideology of a free nation founded on limited government, by simply getting Washington out of the lives of its citizens, enhancing the free market and placing social personal responsibility on everyday tax paying citizens.
American marijuana prohibition illustrates that its practical resembles the same outgrowth of fear and instability as once directed towards alcohol prohibition, birthed out of racially-charged fears of minorities, specifically African-Americans. As a believer in the principles of a Republic, the federal government, continuing to prohibit marijuana, eventually will declare war on its own principles, ideology and people.
The cost of expensive raids over marijuana findings in private homes, counter contradicts the over abundance of supply of marijuana entrenched in our very own correctional facilities, that were supposed to be tightly regulated at the cost of state and federal tax dollars, which further proves the inability and unnecessary prohibition against the American people.
In any war, there manifest the possibility for a criminal underclass of organized crime. As we remember in our first Economics course in college, if there is a demand, a supply will be created to meet that demand as it relates to competitive cost. Simply put, if marijuana were legalized and taxed, in states like California, a state on the brink of bankruptcy, the nation would quickly put the cartels, drug dealers and anyone else not willing to comply with the laws of competition out of business. Instead, just as we have over the counter smoke shops, perhaps over the counter marijuana throughout the country would be a source of revenue for small business owners, an immediate job creator, which re-directs the question as to the illegality of the substance to Washington policymakers.
Maybe it’s time for Washington to surrender the white flag on marijuana policy alone, comprising of roughly $100 billion dollars towards its enforcement, when the nation has a healthcare and economic crisis to compensate for. Instead of building a prospective military industrial complex, which strengthens our nations; national security, we have quadrupled the prison’s criminal system in the United States going back as far as the late 1970’s, resulting in the separation of over 150 million American’s from their families for violating marijuana laws in their respective States. Furthermore, this illegalization of marijuana has damaged the lives of those arrested for using a substance that respectfully is safer in content that that found in alcohol and cigarettes.
Republicans have an incredible opportunity to liberate the country by ceasing control of the nation’s marijuana industrial complex, via taxation and return this substance to small enterprise allowing reputable license business entrepreneur’s full advantage. The American public is ready for a new approach of systemic legalization and limited regulation, accounting for over 55 percent of the general public being in favor of marijuana legalization, by offering the same city, state and federal regulations as its alcohol and cigarette counterparts.
About the Author: Brandon Brice is a graduate of Howard University, Rutgers University’s Graduate Eagleton Institute of Politics and is currently pursuing his studies at Columbia University.