There are numerous arguments as to why marijuana should be legalized. First off, the United States government is spending $50 Billion per year to “combat” a drug problem. As a self-described (and people who know me would agree) “small government Conservative,” that troubles me. First off, we are a nation in economic peril. The $50 Billion per year accomplishes zero in terms of eliminating use and access, as people will do whatever necessary to satisfy an addiction, as we saw during alcohol prohibition. Secondly, I have a problem with politicians asserting their authority on what is “best for me.” Washington should not be a place where morality is legislated and rules are written governing what I do with my body. As a side note, I do not and have never smoked, drank, or consumed any illegal substances.
I would now like to discuss what the War on Drugs accomplishes, or doesn’t. Because social authoritarians are bent on punishing anyone who possesses or sells a miniscule amount of marijuana, the only people who can successfully deal in the country are the drug cartels south of the border. They have the money, airplanes, and resources to plant themselves here in the US and wreck havoc in communities. If marijuana was decriminalized, we would be able to effectively shut off the cartels’ presence in the country (remember that when FDR wisely repealed prohibition, the bootlegging gangs were effectively shut down). Additionally, we are sending people to jail who did nothing but smoke a few joints. There are people going to jail for mandatory sentences associated with marijuana and thus come out as a “criminal.” It makes no sense to me why someone should be jailed as a criminal for doing no harm to anyone else.
On many college campuses, illegally purchased marijuana is actually easier to obtain than illegally purchased alcohol. People who sell alcohol must obtain costly licenses, and know that selling illegally will cost them. Marijuana dealers don’t have to worry about losing a license. So contrary to what we are told, the “war” the government is waging does nothing to restrict access or use.
This year alone, about 11,000 people were incarcerated for drug-related crimes, and about 740,000 people were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. If we decriminalized marijuana, we would save so much on law enforcement. We would have so fewer prisoners, and as a result, have fewer prisons. We also must consider the innocent lives lost because of cartel violence.
If we were to treat marijuana as we treat alcohol, our country would be far better off. We should decriminalize the drug, and create proper punishment, as we do for alcohol, for certain crimes. For instance, selling to a minor, or driving under the influence would result in punishment—not merely possessing the drug. If people could get over the notion that all that is legal is encouraged, we could save a few thousand lives, and quite a few billion dollars.