Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jul 2010
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2010 Loretta Nall
Note: Letters from the newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority
Author: Loretta Nall


The recent defeat of the jobs bill and the possibility that Medicaid
services will be unfunded throughout the coming fiscal year spells
disaster for Alabama's poor. Pregnant women who depend on Medicaid
will be unable to get prenatal care. Our state already has the second
highest infant mortality rate in the nation.

Sure, we could borrow money, but with the national debt higher than it
has ever been, there really isn't any money to borrow. Besides,
there's a better solution.

Legalize the sale of marijuana to adults and use the tax proceeds to
offset budget shortfalls.

Currently Alabama spends hundreds of millions a year to enforce
marijuana laws. That money is used to arrest, prosecute and
incarcerate non-violent citizens. It produces nothing except a huge
burden on taxpayers and has no impact on marijuana use. It is the
epitome of a negative return on an investment.

It costs $132 million to house the drug offender population in state
prisons. That is almost enough to entirely fund the Medicaid budget.
If Alabama legalized marijuana that would be another $132 million.
That's $264 million. More than enough to fund Medicaid with $66
million left over.

Marijuana will never be eradicated, and people will never stop
growing, buying, selling or consuming it. Instead of enriching violent
drug cartels, expanding the prison industrial complex and bankrupting
taxpayers, let's legalize it and use the money generated for positive,
life-enhancing programs.

Loretta Nall

Alexander City
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