Recently I read something in a news article that was both interesting and frightening.
“The U.S. incarceration rate in 1980 was 220 for every 100,000 people, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Today, with more than 2 million people incarcerated, the rate has climbed to 743 per 100,000 people. Reason magazine’s Veronique de Rugy points out nonviolent drug offenders account for ‘roughly one-fourth of all inmates in the United States, up from less than 10 percent in 1980.'” (Source citation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/spending-on-prisons-higher-ed_n_1835889.html)
According to the BJS study, “Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004,” 12.7 percent of state inmates and 12.4 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for drug violations are serving time for marijuana offenses. And this costs taxpayers $1 billion dollars annually. (http://norml.org/news/2006/10/12/nearly-one-in-eight-us-drug-prisoners-are-behind-bars-for-pot-taxpayers-spending-over-1-billion-annually-to-incarcerate-pot-offenders)
The “war on drugs” is a failed war. It’s a war that can never be won. It’s a war that’s not designed to be won, much like the “war on terror.” They are to be unending wars waged by faceless boogeymen to keep the population in fear.
Legalizing marijuana is one of the smartest things that American politicians could do on a number of levels. For one, there’s the obviousness of the $1 billion dollars that taxpayers pay annually to incarcerate petty weed offenses. That’s $1 billion dollars that could go to social programs and to things like education and health care. Both of those would vastly increase our quality of life in this country. We wouldn’t have to see schools closing down or making major cuts to their art and music programs.
Where I live in Ohio they’ve already closed down one of the four local elementary schools and the middle school. Now 5th and 6th graders stay in elementary school and 7th and 8th graders go to the high school. To me this raises a big problem. Putting 12 and 13 year old children in with high school students? That increases the chances of them being preyed upon by older students for either bullying or sexual purposes. We already see children being more sexually active at younger ages. I believe this increases if you put young, impressionable minds interacting daily with older, horny teenagers.
Second, it would make a substantial dent in the problem of overcrowded prisons. Of course $1 billion annually to taxpayers, to put it another way, generates $1 billion annually to for-profit jails and prisons. This is the evil of privatization. So they may not be all that interested in decreasing the prison population.
Third, it would stimulate the economy. If marijuana was made legal, people could then open businesses that specialized in selling marijuana. They could then hire people to work in their stores. This would help with the high unemployment rate. The marijuana could also then be taxed, thus generating more tax revenue. Marijuana could then become an American export which would also bring in more revenue for the United States.
These same arguments could be made for the legalization of prostution, which I think is another absurd and fascist law. Prostitution is nothing more than consentual sex between two adults where money is exchanged for a service. If prostitution was made legal it would cut down on the number of peope in prison for petty “soliticiting of a prostitute” or “prostitution” charges. Less people incarcerated means less of a taxpayer burden. And if prostitution was made legal then people could open up businesses specializing in sex for money. This would help stimulate the economy and lower unemployment rates. Also, legal prostitution would cut back on child prostitution (which would still be illegal) and would protect prostitutes who would no longer have to rely upon a pimp for protection. Prostitutes wouldn’t have to worry about being beaten or getting hooked on drugs by their pimps.
Advocating the legalization of weed and prostitution? I can hear the heads of Conservative Christians collectively exploding right now. And I can also hear the accusations forming as we speak, so allow me to address them beforehand.I do not smoke weed. I haven’t smoked weed since I was a teenager. I’ve never solicited a prostitute. I wouldn’t smoke weed or go to a brothel if both were legal. They just aren’t my thing. But even if I did that’s none of your damn business! That’s the point!
And I personally do not think that all drugs should be legalized, but I do say legalize weed and prostitution. Both of those are nothing more than a front for the war on the poor. Most of those incarcerated on petty weed and prostitution charges are poor and usually people of color.
“In 1990, half of California’s marijuana possession arrestees were African-American, Latino, Asian, or other nonwhite and 35% were under age 20. In 2010, 64% were nonwhite and 52% were under age 20. Marijuana possession arrests of teenagers of color rose from 3,100 in 1990 to 16,400 in 2010 – an arrest surge 300% greater than population growth in that group.” (http://cjcj.org/files/Misdemeanor_marijuana_arrests.pdf)