Pubdate: Sun, 11 Jul 2010
Source: Birmingham News, The (AL)
Contact:  2010 Loretta Nall
Author: Loretta Nall


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

Here's a solution: Legalize the sale of marijuana to adults and use
the tax proceeds to offset budget shortfalls.

Currently, Alabama spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to
enforce marijuana laws. That money is used to arrest, prosecute and
incarcerate nonviolent citizens. 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 make up for the federal dollars the
state budgeted for Medicaid but won't get. If Alabama legalized
marijuana, that would be another $132 million.

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 things.

Loretta Nall

Alexander City
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