Thursday, October 21, 2010

Legalize Pot

(Photo credit: New York Times and Sashenka Gutierrez/EFE, via European Pressphoto Agency)

I see that California is set to legalize marijuana soon. I hope they do. First off, marijuana when compared to alcohol is less intoxicating, less addicting, less damaging to health, less damaging to property, and less damaging to society.

Second, the drug war against marijuana alone costs hundreds of millions of dollars per year in America. Third, the tax that could be generated from the sale of marijuana would be enough to solve California's budget deficit... and several other states would do well to notice.

Check this out:
Two days ago, Mexican authorities seized 134 tons of marijuana in Tijuana, just across the border from California. The value of the seizure was estimated at $340 million.

According to the logic of prohibitionist economics, such a huge bust should have quite a damaging effect on the marijuana market in the United States, right?

Wrong. Mexico confiscated more than 1,300 tons of marijuana in 2009 alone, and before that the average was more than 2,000 tons per year. Yet each year, production goes up and street prices in the U.S. remain relatively static.

In California, the efforts to make an impact on the availability and price of marijuana result in similarly impressive seizures, but they too fail to have any effect whatsoever. Each year during the late summer and early fall, eradication programs such as CAMP take to the hills and skies, destroying millions of budding marijuana plants. Yet each year, production goes up and street prices remain relatively static.
Take 1,300 tons (1.3 million kilograms) and divide that by the 300 million people in America, and you get 4 grams per year for every man, woman, grandparent, and child. When you divide that into the 5% of Americans who smoke marijuana every month, that number goes up to 80 grams... about 3 ounces.

Soon California... and hopefully thereafter the rest of the United States... will legalize the growth and sale of marijuana. If you want to put everybody from murderous Mexican drug cartels to your shady local pot dealer out of business, fix a huge amount of government cash problems (and make America a mellower — and hopefully less drunk — place in the process), legalizing marijuana is a good first step.
Here: I decided to add in this graphic which I put on my blog 3½ years ago. Below is the list that you get if you ask doctors, scientists, and law enforcement officials (instead of politicians) how they rank the 20 most common illegal (and legal) drugs in terms of what I shall call the "how bad they are" measure (i.e. on average, how much people who regularly use a particular drug (1) damage their health, (2) get addicted, and (3) damage their family and society in the process).
1. Heroin
2. Cocaine/crack
3. Barbiturates (sedatives)
4. Methadone (pain killer)
5. Alcohol
6. Ketamine (psychedelic)
7. Sleeping pills
8. Amphetamines
9. Tobacco
10. Buprenorphine (pain killer)
11. Marijuana
12. Inhaling solvents
13. 4 MTA (stimulant)
14. LSD/acid
15. Ritalin (ADHD drugs)
16. Anabolic steroids
17. GHB (the "date rape drug")
18. Ecstasy
19. Poppers / Rush (inhalers)
20. Khat (chewable stimulants)


tasij said...

Don't get your hope up yet, prop 19 is behind in polls, and AG Holder sez that the feds will still enforce federal laws,

Jungle Jil said...

Yeah. Pretty much people are laughing at the thought of the FBI taking over patrolling California for drugs.

Considering that local police officers can't or won't (don't) arrest the millions of people smoking pot in California, what is the chance that the FBI will be able to? You'll have 100,000 houses with pot plants growing in the back yard... and what? Thousands of dollars worth of federal helicopter surveillance just to catch some 40-year-old computer programmer with 20 pot plants growing next to the rosemary and tomatoes? And the next 99,999 houses?

And all just to slap somebody with a couple-hundred-dollar possession fine?

The AG really should just stop talking because it's a bit embarassing that he can't see the ridiculous scenario he is describing.

Last I checked, the prop was something like 47% for legalization and 45% against. It's been falling steadily... it was something like 55% for and 40% against at one point.

Anonymous said...

don't hold the smoke in if your waiting for it to be legalized in the philippines,exhale!aaahhh!!!