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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Legal pot could save $72 billion a year

An elderly women smokes a joint at hemp fest. (photo: The Washington Post)
An elderly women smokes a joint at hemp fest. (photo: The Washington Post)

By Carl Gibson
Reader Supported News
01 September 12
f there was something readily available that had proven to successfully grow brain cells, kill cancer cells, treat glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, PTSD, insomnia, loss of appetite, and other ailments, how infuriating would it be to know that both state and federal governments were spending in excess of $26 billion of our tax dollars every year arresting and incarcerating people for having, selling and using that substance? Could you imagine this guy going to jail for simply curing his thyroid cancer?

I still remember my 16-year-old cat dying when I was in high school, and crying after it happened. Losing a pet is traumatizing for any kid, especially little ones. I can only imagine the fear, terror, anger and hatred felt by three kids in St. Paul, Minnesota several weeks ago when drug task force agents raided their home in the middle of the night, shot their family dog, and made them sit handcuffed next to the bloody carcass at gunpoint for over an hour while officers ransacked their home. One child was kicked by a cop and searched while loaded guns were pointed at her. Another child was deprived of her diabetes medication and went into diabetic shock induced by low blood sugar levels. And the drug cops weren't even raiding the right home.

Retired California Superior Court Judge James P. Gray argued in 2009, during the state's debate over the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to regulate and taxed marijuana like alcohol, that the more than 30-year War on Drugs has failed miserably. Gray went on to state that the prohibition of marijuana has only led to the proliferation of even more potent marijuana, just as the days of alcohol prohibition motivated bootleggers to peddle stronger booze to turn a higher profit. The facts back up Judge Gray: Mexican drug cartels currently kidnapping, raping and murdering thousands every year would be crippled if marijuana, their biggest source of revenue, was made legal in the United States.

With taxed and regulated marijuana, federal and state governments would suddenly free up $26 billion spent annually on the failed drug war. And the additional tax revenue taken in, assuming the states regulate and tax the sale of marijuana, would mean an additional $46 billion in tax revenue every year. China spent $70 billion modernizing their high-speed rail system, which simultaneously created jobs, streamlined transportation, and will drastically improve the environment over the years. What if we invested $72 billion in American high-speed rail with that new revenue?

While state governments in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, and yes, even Kentucky are waking up and realizing the benefits of both prescribing medical marijuana and regulating marijuana like alcohol, the federal government's chief drug enforcer, Michele Leonhart, is still blindly parroting vastly outdated talking points, even when confronted by members of Congress. And yes, this is the same federal government that has issued 300 pre-rolled joints every month since 1982 to stockbroker Irv Rosenfeld, who suffers from a condition that causes painful bone tumors. It's also the same federal government whose president said he would stop raiding medical marijuana farms and dispensaries in 2009. It's also the same federal government that continues to raid medical marijuana farms and dispensaries, like the ones at Oaksterdam University in 2012.

Confused yet? According to Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, the US government signed a treaty in 1961, with a host of other countries, that made marijuana a Schedule I drug, meaning it's flatly forbidden. Keep in mind, this was done not long after Harry J. Anslinger's lurid testimonies as US Commissioner of Narcotics, and racist fear-mongering by yellow journalists like William Randolph Hearst that insinuated that smoking marijuana would turn women into prostitutes.

But today, over half of Americans are ready to see marijuana legalized. And $3 million has already been raised to help the legalization efforts in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state. If you're ready to stop being confused and end the senseless prohibition of marijuana, demand your state legislators introduce bills in the following session that do just that.

Demand members of Congress and presidential candidates to withdraw from the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. If they won't, elect legislators, congressmen and presidents who will.


Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. You can contact Carl at carl@rsnorg.org, and listen to his online radio talk show, Swag The Dog, at blogtalkradio.com/swag-the-dog

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