Posts tagged drug

The Insane Economics Of Not Legalizing Marijuana In One Handy Infographic

There’s a lot of green in green. This infographic shows just how much money is falling through the cracks, and how much we’re spending to keep it underground.

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With Ron Paul’s campaign fizzling, the idea that we might end the war on drugs is probably off the political table for the time being. The federal government (and many state governments) will continue to hunt down and prosecute marijuana growers and marijuana smokers. But, as you can see in this infographic about the faulty logic behind our ban on the drug, the government’s policies are resulting in a huge loss of income, without a commensurate increase in public health or safety.

What will happen to the children, concerned people ask, when confronted with the idea of a world filled with weed-smoking maniacs. Won’t our teenagers join an army of reefer-mad burnouts? We must protect them! But in states where marijuana is legal, the armies of reefer-mad burnouts have yet to materialize: 80% of the states that have legalized the drug for medical purposes have seen decreases in teen usage rates. Across the board, we have spent $33 billion on public service announcements to get kids not to smoke pot since 1969 and the rate of 12th graders who use marijuana is exactly the same as it was before we spent those billions:

In fact, the drug war doesn’t have much teeth at all, at least when it comes to marijuana. For one thing, it’s really easy to get. So easy, teenagers say it’s more accessible than alcohol, and kids have been getting alcohol quite easily for years:

Even assuming that legalization might cause an increase in teen drug use, think about what might be more important than children’s health: money. Lord knows that we, as a society, endanger our kids’ health in exchange for large sums of money all the time. And marijuana has the potential to be a huge source of cash; it already is for the underground economy in which it operates. In fact, it’s the most lucrative agricultural product in the entire country. In 12 states, it’s the largest cash crop the state produces. In more than half the states, it’s one of the top five products. That’s a lot of potential tax revenue going to waste.

And it’s not just that we’re losing potential cash. We’re also spending a lot of money to hunt down the farmers and consumers, which means the increase in revenue would be incredibly large: almost $21 billion on top of the money from actually selling the drug.

The infographic doesn’t dwell on the public health concerns of legalization. And they surely exist. The world would probably be a better place if no one was ever intoxicated. But we don’t really have that collective will power. We might as well make money off our vices.

Courtesy of Morgan Clendaniel for FastCoExist.com

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The passage of a northern Chicago suburb’s 2012 budget included an ordinance that decriminalizes marijuana possession of 10 grams or less, penalizing offenders with a fine rather than the jail time they could face elsewhere.

The Evanston City Council voted 6-3 on a $250 million budget Monday night, according to Evanston Patch. Aldermen justified the more lenient marijuana ordinance as a protection against young people’s futures (infractions under the new ordinance will not appear on criminal records), and as part of an effort to free up police they say are overextended in the town, which has about 75,000 residents and contains Northwestern University.

"There is a high amount of paperwork and time that is spent going to court,” Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) told The Daily Northwestern. “It’s not just the arrest but then the processing and follow-through that take a lot of time.”

Under previous local laws, possession of 10 grams or less could result in a 6-month jail term, ABC Chicago reports.

Current local law could result in a 6-month jail term for possession of up to 10 grams of pot.

When the budget meeting was opened to citizen comments, several Evanston residents praised the policy change, according to Fox Chicago.

"It does not say that it’s okay to smoke pot, but it does say that they don’t have to live in fear of having a record follow them the rest of their life if they are caught," Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl told Fox.

Dickelle Fonda, an Evanston resident, worked with Northeastern Illinois University student Jersey Hosier to research marijuana arrests in Evanston between Jan. 2008 and Oct. 2009 and found a disproportionately high number of marijuana possession arrests involved black residents compared to white residents, Patch reports.

"I hope that it’s the beginning of a larger discussion and looking at a larger picture of what is happening to certain segments of our population in Evanston," Fonda told Patch. "I think that when we look at why young people are stopped and where they’re stopped, there are some serious questions that need to be answered."

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has lobbied for a similar shift in low-level drug possession penalties to ease the county’s overextended budget.

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Today’s brilliantly smart-ass response to a completely well-meaning sign.

Today’s brilliantly smart-ass response to a completely well-meaning sign.

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More than 150,000 Americans die of alcohol abuse each year. But in more than 10,000 years of usage, no one has ever died from marijuana….

More than 150,000 Americans die of alcohol abuse each year. But in more than 10,000 years of usage, no one has ever died from marijuana….

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Worldwide, it is estimated that about 162 million adults use marijuana at least once per year, and 22.5 million use the drug daily….

Worldwide, it is estimated that about 162 million adults use marijuana at least once per year, and 22.5 million use the drug daily….

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