Pubdate: Mon, 27 Apr 2009
Source: GW Hatchet (George Washington U, DC Edu)
Copyright: 2009 The GW Hatchet
Author: Sammy Lopez


Justin Guiffre's column "Put the poor before pot" (April 20, p. 4) 
raises a unique and interesting argument against the legalization of 
marijuana. However, it is a bit misguided.

The author's assertion that a cash crop like marijuana would crowd 
out production of edible crops is simply not applicable to U.S. 
agriculture. He cites the troubles created by cash crop proliferation 
in countries like Eritrea and Ethiopia. However, this is only a issue 
in countries where subsistence farming is more prevalent and food 
supply varies seasonally. Commercial agriculture in the U.S. actually 
produces a massive surplus of edible crops (the product of large U.S. 
farm subsidies) and world hunger is arguably the result of resource 
misallocation, not shortage.

Secondly, in a recent letter to the editor a reader made the weak 
argument that marijuana legalization would increase reckless driving. 
Likening the effects of marijuana to alcohol is a classic tactic 
employed against its legalization, but it is scientifically 
unfounded. The study the reader cites is critically flawed in that 
the applicants would test positive for marijuana if they had used it 
at all approximately 30 days prior (hence drivers that tested 
positive were likely not "high" at the time).

Regardless of the above, both opinions pieces miss the true case for 
marijuana legalization: cost. The U.S. spends billions of dollars 
every year combating marijuana growing, dealing and trafficking, and 
billions more on imprisoning millions of people for minor drug 
offenses (not to mention the cost to the economy from keeping these 
people out of work). Even if marijuana production is untaxed if 
legalized, the costs of prohibition are tremendous enough. Look no 
farther than California or the Netherlands to see that marijuana is 
not as socially destructive as some would have us believe.

Sammy Lopez, Junior
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