Pubdate: Tue, 18 Nov 2008
Source: Collegiate Times (VA Tech,  Edu)
Copyright: 2008 Collegiate Times
Author: Kristophler Reinertson


Underneath the "hips" and "hoorays" being shouted across the world as
America elects our first president who happens to be black, a ball of
tumbleweed rolls down from the silent, dusty Wall Street to Main Street
in Blacksburg. Economists say we face the greatest economic challenge
since the Great Depression.

We cannot simply throw our money at the problem and expect the CEOs to
bail us out. What we need is a variety of effective, future-oriented
investments aimed toward our infrastructure and energy technology
sectors, as well as a variety of money-generating solutions to help
our economy recover from its drunken stumble toward a devastating depression.

President Roosevelt ended alcohol prohibition in 1933 as part of his
economic stimulus package, bringing more jobs and tax revenue into the
economy. This was only possible because of the reduction of moral
panic during the turn of the century that blamed Irish immigrants'
failure to gain wealth and status on alcohol. In similar light today,
we are subsiding the moral panic of the 1980s that blamed youth
marijuana use on adult marijuana use. After 30 years of draconian
prison sentences, abstinence-only education, and over $40 billion per
year spent on waging the War on Drugs, we see that youth marijuana
rates have increased since the 1980s.

As taxpayers in the midst of economic turmoil, we should be pragmatic
in realizing the lack of return on our marijuana prohibition
investment, as well as the opportunity cost of not legalizing the
marijuana market. The extra inch an adult may lean back in their chair
should not thwart us from adding the expected $2.4 billion to $6.2
billion annually in regulated marijuana tax revenue.

If history has taught us anything, it is that America has the strength
to overcome hard economic times and the determination to lead as the
superpower among nations. But we cannot take this for granted. The
2008 elections are proof that it will be the pragmatist who wins
elections in the 21st century.

As President-elect Barack Obama has called for the decriminalization
of marijuana, the paradigm shift from a criminal approach to a public
health approach to the War on Drugs, and has honestly admitted
inhaling marijuana, we should be pragmatic as well in calling for
legalizing and regulating marijuana as a part of his economic stimulus

Kristopher Reinertson

senior, political science and sociology

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Virginia Tech Chapter President
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