In 2015 there was an estimated budget of $51 billion spent on the “war on drugs” (http://bit.ly/2eALQ6Q). What have we gotten for this? 46.4% of inmates in federal prison are in jail for drug charges (http://bit.ly/2f5RMFW), 619,000 arrests annually for?marijuana possession only (http://wapo.st/2fnYx3I), and the highest prison population in the world. That’s over one drug related arrest PER MINUTE. This isn’t working.
If marijuana were taxed at the same rate as tobacco and alcohol, we could see a $28 Billion increase in taxes (http://bit.ly/2eAPy0i). That’s a total difference of $79 Billion by ending the drug war.
What could we do with $79 Billion per year?
- We could take $248 off everyone’s annual taxes.
- We could spend $3590 per person per year on drug rehab, education, and other assistance efforts for the 22 million marijuana users in the country.
- If we really wanted to, we could build Trump’s wall 10 times a year (based on his estimated cost of $8 Billion).
- We could pay for 1/3 of the interest on the national debt.
- We could give $1755 to each of the 45 million people living below the poverty line. For a family of 4, that’s $585 a month, enough for rent in some cities. Need I mention that these 45 million people are the same ones that are getting arrested at a rate of more than 1 per minute for marijuana use and that we’re spending inordinate amounts of money to incarcerate. What if we instead helped them get decent food, housing, and schools and help them get a leg up in life rather than paying to put them in jail.
- We could multiply by 7 the budget for Customs and Border Patrol (it’s currently $13.56 Billion) and actually decrease illegal immigration and cross-border drug and human trafficking.
So, long story short, I think marijuana is an awful thing. It’s known to have terrible long term and short term effects on people. Then again, similar things could be said for alcohol, cigarettes, pornography, and other vices, but these are all legal and taxed. I’d rather release the non-violent inmates, stop the massive arrests, and have the $79 Billion for other things that actually help reduce drug use like improving schools, providing food to people in poverty, providing counseling to abuse victims, rescuing women from sex trafficking, improving low income housing…I could go on. The point is, the drug war is a terrible use of funds, locking up this many people is a terrible waste of human life, and it has accomplished NOTHING, if anything it’s made the situation worse.
Vote Gary Johnson to legalize marijuana and refocus these funds on more important issues where they can have an impact.