Pubdate: Tue, 15 Nov 2011
Source: Maneater, The (Uof Missouri - Columbia, MO Edu)
Copyright: 2011 The Maneater
Author: Ellen Sherman
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


The Government Spends Roughly $14 Billion Per Year On Prohibition

Legalizing the illegal substance marijuana has been a hot topic for 
the past decade. A synthetic weed, K2, drug cartels and an increase 
in potency have put pressure on the government to construct a plan 
for legalization. Conversely, negative health associations and some 
law enforcement groups have put pressure on the government to 
continue the criminalization.

Today it is the top cash crop in the world, worth $35 billion, 
beating out such staples as wheat and corn combined, according to an 
article on In 2007, 14.4 million Americans ages 12 and older 
used marijuana at least once in the month prior to being surveyed, 
according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Fourteen states have decriminalized cannabis and 17 have medical 
marijuana programs, including Washington, D.C. States are coming up 
quickly with their own view on the drug in order to appease the 
public, according to

In the federal sector, on June 23, 2011, a bill to fully legalize 
marijuana was introduced in the House by Ron Paul, R-Texas, and 
Barney Frank, D-Mass. The bill would remove marijuana from the 
controlled substances list.

The government has denied medical marijuana has any medical benefits, 
but they hold the patent for the medical use of the plant. U.S. 
Patent 6630507 is titled "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and 
neuroprotectants," an indication that the government recognizes the 
possible medical benefits in the drug.

According to Scott Lauher, MU National Organization for the Reform of 
Marijuana Laws co-director, there are numerous positive effects to 
legalizing marijuana, but the main reason is because prohibition just 
doesn't work.

The government spends nearly $14 billion each year on prohibition, 
according to the Marijuana Policy Project on Capitol Hill. In just 
two years time that would provide America with enough money to secure 
all loose nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union. Five-hundred 
and thirty economists agree the government is sitting aside, watching 
millions of dollars be wasted on marijuana prohibition.

If marijuana was legalized and taxed, Missouri alone could 
potentially collect $15.6 million dollars in tax revenues in one 
year, according to an article on The state and federal 
governments are not only able to obtain funds through taxes, but from 
other sources as well.

Not only are there economists backing up the plans, but the country 
becoming more in favor of legalization than it was in the past. In a 
Gallup poll released in September 2011, 50 percent of Americans are 
now in support of legalization and regulation of the marijuana trade. 
When the ability to petition the government through the White House's 
official government website become live, the marijuana legalization 
petition was the first to post. Eighteen thousand signatures were 
received in just one day to decriminalize the widely-used drug.

Local lawyer Dan Viets has dealt with marijuana cases for the past 25 
years and has proposed the two Initiative petitions relating to 
cannibas approved for circulation for the 2012 Missouri ballot.

"I'm in favor of it -- I think it's insane to put otherwise law 
abiding people in jail for using, growing or selling marijuana," 
Viets said. "The pot smokers tend to not bother anybody."

Viets said he thinks the laws sending people his way are outrageous.

K2 creator John Huffman, who made millions of dollars off of his 
compound, believes marijuana should be legalized.

"You can't overdose on marijuana, but you might on (K2)," Huffman 
said. "These things are dangerous, and marijuana isn't, really."

Some health studies have shown marijuana to be associated with 
negative health effects.

According to a marijuana joint contains 50 to 100 
percent more tar than that of tobacco, therefore smoking just one 
joint is equal to smoking 7 to 10 cigarrettes.

By legalizing marijuana, the general public could be exposed to yet 
another known carcinogen option, according to 
Marijuana smokers could experience the same respiratory problems that 
tobacco smokers have due to the excessive amounts of tar.

Not only is the marijuana smoke harmful, but so are the chemicals. 
There are more than 400 chemicals in marijuana and some are known to 
affect your memory, sex drive and problem solving skills, according 
to the American Council for Drug Education.

Although some argue the legalization of marijuana will lead to less 
drug dealers, or harder times for cartels, it could actually lead 
them to focus on more dangerous trafficking in order to make up the 
lost income.

Antonio Martinez, attorney general for Northern Baja California from 
2001 to 2007, said at the McGeorge School of Law symposium on 
marijuana and legal issues that sanctioning marijuana use in 
California would force cartels to increase other forms of drug trafficking.

Nationwide criminal networks coming from Mexico and China are fed by 
the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana, according to Sylvia 
Longmire of the New York Times. The drug provides a significant 
source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs and 
cartels. The Mexican cartel is almost completely fed by smuggling 
tons of marijuana over the border each year. Although legalizing 
marijuana may upset drug lords profiting off of the cannabis, it 
could lead the drug cartels into focusing on increasingly dangerous activities.

The following people could not be reached for comment: Mothers 
Against Drunk Driving Parents. The Anti Drug Columbia Police 
Department spokeswoman Latisha Stroer Wellness Resource Center 
assistant Director Kim Dude
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