As a teenager, Barack Obama liked to get high in the back of a friend's VW bus. He knows, as did George W. Bush and Bill Clinton before him, what we all know: that pot is essentially harmless, writes Jann S. Wenner in Rolling Stone magazine. It is about time for the federal government to take steps to legalize marijuana on a federal level.
Not everyone in the federal government agrees that marijuana should be legal and if they do, they will not admit it. But most Americans do believe that, or at least think that the federal government should allow voters in states like Colorado and Washington to decide for themselves whether or not recreational marijuana use should be legal.
In a recent Gallup/USA Today poll, 64 percent of Americans said the federal government should not intervene in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. A Public Policy Polling national survey revealed that 58 percent of Americans feel that marijuana should be legal and 50 percent of respondents said they think marijuana will become legal under federal law within the next 10 years.
A closer examination of that poll and several others reveals numbers that probably should not be startling, and reveal a trend in American’s opinions about legalization of marijuana. You can view more polls on the topic here and here. It is clear that Americans want the federal government out of marijuana policies that have been decided by voters on a state level.
The polls suggest that the trend for legalization is going to increase, because all of them show that support for legalization of marijuana primarily comes from younger and middle aged voters. Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, put it this way: "This is the first time Quinnipiac University asked this question in its national poll so there is no comparison from earlier years. It seems likely, however, that given the better than 2-1 majority among younger voters, legalization is just a matter of time."
The real question now is, will the Obama administration and federal agencies respect state’s rights and the popular opinion of voters and change federal marijuana laws, or at least back down on enforcing them?
That remains to be seen, but a good indication are the words of Michelle Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in her response, or rather her non-response, to a few simple questions in a congressional hearing. (See video to left). According to her, all illegal drugs are equally bad, but it is okay to put kids on Zoloft or Adderall, or spend $8 billion a year to incarcerate pot users.
Here are some statistics, as seen at Online Paralegal Programs:
- Marijuana is the greatest revenue producer of all agricultural products in the U.S. The annual income is $36 billion.
- It is the top cash crop in 12 states, top 3rd in 30, and top 5th in 39 states.
- If legalized, the U.S. would save $7.7 billion on prohibition costs.
- The U.S. would gain $6.2 billion on tax revenues.
- The U.S. economy would gain another $7 billion on shops and various products made from hemp.
- Since the “war on drugs” began, the U.S. has spent $33 billion on the “just say no” campaign.
- Marijuana use has remained the same since the war on drugs began, except in the states where medical use is legal.
- 10 million of the 37 million people incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses have been arrested for possession of marijuana.
- The total of cost of incarcerating drug offenders is about $450 billion per year.
- Last year, about 850 million people were arrested for marijuana-related offenses. Of those arrests, 103,000 were for manufacture or sale and 750,000 were for simple possession.
- Of 10 states that had legalized medical marijuana, eight saw a decrease in teen marijuana use from 1999 to 2006.
Simple solution – legalize weed and fire Leonhart, because anyone that ignorant or obstinate should not be in a high (no pun intended) position in government. Even Pat Robertson would probably do a better job in that position, and that is not a compliment for Pat. Any research team could dig up the statistics about legalization of marijuana and publicize them.
The potential for tax revenue from the legalization of marijuana has not even been mentioned in congressional debates over the budget, but with the country about to go off the metaphorical fiscal cliff, that deserves some attention. The legislators and voters in the states of Washington and Colorado realize that there is potential for revenue from legalizing and taxing marijuana, just like tobacco and alcohol in all 50 states. But thanks to people like Ms. Leonhart, no portion of the potential tax revenues from legalizing marijuana is even considered. Instead of cutting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and then raising income taxes on everyone, how about finding a new source of revenue?
Like it or not, Mr. President and Ms. Leonhart, about half of the people in the country smoke weed. Most would probably like to have it legal and pay their fair share of taxes on it in return for you removing the fear of being arrested. That is reality and it is a reality that is going to continue to trend, so go with it and the rest of the people in this country. These “potheads” are also known as voters - the people that elected you.
Most people know that the war on drugs is a sham, especially when valuable resources are spent on curtailing pot smuggling, incarcerating users and banks like HSBC get to launder drug cartel’s money for private profit. Most people are also beginning to realize that spending billions on unnecessary wars and killing people on the other side of the globe is probably more economically and morally harmful to Americans than people smoking a joint.
Keep it lit and force the federal government to get off of the fence and do something about this issue.
Public Policy Polling (pdf)