As I become more and more educated about governmental policies, their intent, and their results, I have recently became aware of an issue that I have been very apathetic about in the past. This issue is the war on drugs.
I want to start with saying I have never and have no intention of ever smoking weed. Sad this should even make a difference, as that is not the issue at all.
Why was marijuana made illegal? Most people do not know this, but it was made illegal mainly due to racism in the United States. Due to immigration of Mexicans, Americans were exposed to marijuana (marijuana was popular among Mexicans at the time). A Texas Legislator’s famous quote, “All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff [marijuana] is what makes them crazy." Marijuana was believed to make people insane and cause them to murder among other things. Dr. James C. Munch testified in court that marijuana had turned him into a bat when he tried it. He later became the US Official Expert on Marihuana.
When alcohol prohibition occurred, it is common knowledge that a black market formed that made some people very rich. This also caused a lot of violence to come about. (Hmm. Something being made illegal and therefore causing a huge black market and violence. Sounds like something going on today, doesn’t it?) Let’s look at marijuana versus tobacco. Tobacco is legal and can be bought at pretty much any gas station in the country. Tobacco kills about 390,000 people a year. Deaths related to alcohol are about 80,000. Marijuana kills zero.* It is not a lethal drug. I love this quote from the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy, “All illegal drugs combined kill about 4,500 people per year, or about one percent of the number killed by alcohol and tobacco. Tobacco kills more people each year than all of the people killed by all of the illegal drugs in the last century.”
What is the war on drugs costing us as a nation? Well, in direct cost of enforcing drug policy, I again want to use a quote from the Schaffer Library of Drug Policy:
“The cost to put a single drug dealer in jail is about $450,000, composed of the following:
The cost for arrest and conviction is about $150,000.
The cost for an additional prison bed is about $50,000 to $150,000, depending upon the jurisdiction.
It costs about $30,000 per year to house a prisoner. With an average sentence of 5 years, that adds up to another $150,000.
The same $450,000 can provide treatment or education for about 200 people. In addition, putting a person in prison produces about fifteen dollars in related welfare costs, for every dollar spent on incarceration. Every dollar spent on treatment and education saves about five dollars in related welfare costs.”
Why are we wasting so much money enforcing a policy that has failed to curb usage in all its years of law? The costs are astounding. As I am writing this, there has been over 29.5 BILLION tax dollars spent on the war on drugs this year alone. That is your money, taken by the government, to enforce a policy that simply does not make sense. To make the case that these drugs should be illegal for the ‘safety’ of our country, you would have to go no further than the quote about how many deaths have occurred due to tobacco and alcohol in the USA on a yearly basis. To see how much money has been spent so far this year on the War on Drugs, go to http://www.drugsense.org/wodclock.htm
I also want to direct you to a very disturbing page that shows those who died in SWAT Team raids. I actually heard about one in St. Paul just this morning. The swat team raided an apartment and a man fled to his room with his wife believing they were being robbed. He started shooting at them through his bedroom door, causing the swat team to shoot back. He had six children present who were all under 18. They shouted to their father and told him that they were police. Nobody was killed and it was the result of a wrong address. Many others are not as fortunate. Please take a look at this page: http://blogs.salon.com/0002762/stories/2003/08/17/drugWarVictims.html
How many must die for us to stop this embarrassing war? I have only looked into this issue for two, maybe three days yet I already have a barrage of information that makes any case to continue this war on drugs pathetic. The most enraging part of this whole issue is the issue of medical marijuana. Mccain, Romney, and Guiliani all say that there is no evidence that marijuana can be used as a medicine more effectively than other medicine and therefore are against legalization.
I’m sure they never saw the movie “In Pot We Trust” see: http://www.medicalcannabis.com/documentary.htm
I read a story a couple days ago about someone’s mother who had some nerve damage due to a surgery. It was constant, nonstop pain so much so that she could not take a regular shower because she would collapse due to the pain caused by the water contact with her skin. She tried all sorts of pain relievers, but none could suppress the pain. She finally tried marijuana, and it was like no other pain reliever she had tried. She could go to sleep at night pain free and could function on a day-to-day basis without having to endure a pain that brought her many times to the brink of suicide. The son of this woman is now a huge activist against the war on drugs.
Just think about this scenario: Our government, elected by us, finds people in extreme pain who grow small amounts of marijuana they use as medicine to relieve their pain. They go in, arrest that person and throw them in jail. What is wrong with this scenario?
This debate is not about the morality of using marijuana or other “illegal” drugs, it is about whether or not our government has a right to tell us if we can or cannot be involved in these activities. If anything, that $600 a second our government spends on the war of drugs should be poured into rehab programs and helping people cope with drug addictions and allow individuals who need marijuana for medicinal reasons have it. I would think most would find it a hard time expressing their reasons against legalizing medical marijuana to someone who has just told them the intense struggle that they have had with certain diseases.
It’s time for us to change these ridiculous prohibitions and stop being hypocrites who allow tobacco to kill well over a quarter million people a year yet arrest people who smoke a plant to relieve their pain.