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Friday, March 27, 2009

Legalize It.

I never would have thought that an issue that I am relatively non-passionate about would make me so disgusted with the president that I think is the best thing to happen to our country in decades, but here we are.

I am dumbfounded at how flippantly the idea of legalizing marijuana was handled at yesterday's online White House town hall. [Especially considering the hypocrisy that Obama has admitted using marijuana himself.]
"After taking questions lower on the list, Obama addressed the pot issue head-on, noting the huge number of questions about marijuana legalization and remarking with a chuckle, “I don't know what that says about the online audience."

"The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy," he said, as the audience in the room applauded and joined him in a laugh."
Thousands of people have been killed in violence between Mexican drug cartels fueled by billions of dollars in sales of illicit drugs. All of this is leading people to wonder if Mexico - a country with which the United States shares an enormous border - is on the verge of becoming a failed state.


There are obviously legitimate reasons to be against legalizing marijuana, but to reduce all those with a pro-legalization position to a Seth Rogan-esque straw man does a disservice to the very real problem that we (that's right; Mexico AND America) face right now.

Over 3.2 million pounds of marijuana were seized coming over the border last year. THAT'S WHAT WE FOUND! Imagine how much we missed. Some estimates say that 60% of the Mexican cartels earnings come from marijuana alone. Eliminating that revenue would be a devastating blow.

Also, to address the economic bent of the marijuana question asked at the Obama town hall: With all the Great Depression comparisons being thrown around during the current economic crisis, I can't believe more people haven't noted that prohibition was ended at that time, which gave the government a new revenue stream and struck a huge blow to organized crime. Make it legal, build a domestic industry (Virginia could certainly use a new cash crop to replace the dying tobacco industry), and get tax revenues from it. How would that not help the government and the economy? I'm not saying it is the answer, but it certainly is no joke.

Furthermore, enforcing anti-marijuana laws that mostly target users has swamped our justice system and wastes money that could be used to focus law enforcment on the truly destructive drugs. Here are some stats from an upcoming article from (my boy) Senator Jim Webb on the effect of drug offender laws:
"Justice statistics also show that 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses. Additionally, nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity. Indeed, four out of five drug arrests were for possession of illegal substances, while only one out of five was for sales. Three-quarters of the drug offenders in our state prisons were there for nonviolent or purely drug offenses. And although experts have found little statistical difference among racial groups regarding actual drug use, African-Americans—who make up about 12% of the total U.S. population—accounted for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison."
Just to be clear, I do not use any drugs and I only think marijuana should be legal. Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, etc. are far too addictive and destructive to be decriminalized. Marijuana on the other hand is certainly no worse for people than tobacco and alcohol, which are both perfectly legal.

There is a war on in Mexico. People are dying and there is a viable solution that could be at least debated and it is being treated like a joke and that pisses me off.

I like to think that I have made a reasoned argument here (here's another); but then again, I'm probably just hopped up on doobies, right Mr. President?

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