Pubdate: Mon, 25 May 2009
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2009 The Honolulu Advertiser
Author: Spencer McLachlin
Note: Spencer McLachlin was born and raised in Honolulu and attended Punahou
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


The "War on Drugs" originated in the Nixon administration and 
continues today with billions of dollars spent and hundreds of 
thousands of prisoners caught annually. Yet to be won, the "war" 
refers to the government's prohibition of illegal drugs such as 
marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines. 2009 marks the 36th 
anniversary of the beginning of the war with nobody celebrating 
victory, mourning in defeat or begging for mercy.

This war has amounted to more than $12 billion in the government's 
annual spending over the past 10 years. In the economic conditions of 
America today, as we stare the Second Great Depression in the eye, 
any means of revenue will help. Legalization and decriminalization of 
marijuana will help save the government money and it will be able to 
allocate its officers to more dangerous drugs.

In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt campaigned to repeal the prohibition of 
alcohol with the 21st Amendment. "Our tax burden would not be so 
heavy," said Roosevelt referring to the country's dire economic 
situation. With the combination of taxation of alcohol and reduced 
enforcement policing alcohol, Roosevelt was looking to save millions 
of dollars and profit with taxes from sale revenues.

President Obama currently supports medicinal marijuana and opposes 
legalization or decriminalization. Should marijuana be legalized and 
decriminalized completely, with the government taxing and enforcing 
laws similar to those on alcohol, they are looking at profits of up 
to $76 billion a year, predicts Harvard economist Jeffery A. Miron.

The evidence that marijuana is harmful is either not apparent or 
significantly less than for other drugs. In 2001 the Centers for 
Disease Control and Prevention tallied 331 overdoses from alcohol 
compared to none for marijuana. Marijuana consumption does not lead 
to domestic violence. Illegal marijuana trafficking and the black 
market is what causes domestic violence and gang wars, like the 
current state of turbulence in Mexico.

More dangerous drugs than marijuana, such as crystal methamphetamine, 
plague the Hawaiian Islands with their highly addictive properties 
and dangerous side effects. Hawai'i currently has the highest rate of 
meth users per capita in the United States. The Honolulu Police 
Department reported in The Honolulu Advertiser that meth use has been 
linked to property crimes, such as car theft or burglary, and violent 
crimes. It was hypothesized that a crackdown on marijuana made more 
people resort to the more dangerous drug, crystal meth. The 
legalization and decriminalization of marijuana would allow more 
officers to focus on the deadlier, more addictive, more violent drug 
of crystal methamphetamine.

As people debate the time period the United States should fight its 
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, citizens should also debate how much 
longer they are willing to wage a war within their own country. 
Similar to the "War on Terrorism," the "War on Drugs" is the United 
States government waging war on its own citizens.

Marijuana has little negative externalities. It is possible for 
history to repeat itself, and the government will overturn one of its 
biggest policy disasters.

For change to happen, people need to speak out against the "War on 
Drugs" and advocate for a different, more sensible policy. Wars are 
fought against people, not things.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom