We have condoned the deaths of over half a million citizens each year due to tobacco and its drug component nicotine. We consider tobacco and alcohol to he public health issues even as they devastate far more people both directly and indirectly than the use of prohibited drugs.
We had one failed experiment in prohibition in our past which had, as it's primary consequence, the creation of criminal enterprise that exist today, now selling drugs in place of alcohol. The message is clear that some people will continue to abuse any substance regardless of the legality. The "war on drugs" is really a war against American Citizens who, though ill advised, have chosen to experiment with drugs not available through safe, regulated or taxed channels.
Prison is not a viable method to treat drug abuse. It has far too many collateral consequences, especially for minorities. It cost in tax payer dollars far out weighs the purported benefits of criminalizing drug abuse.
The crime associated with a black market creates millions of additional victims that are not abusers but are caught up in the web of gangs, cartels and petty crime, all for the support of an underground economy.
I personally do not smoke tobacco and drink a tiny amount of alcohol on scarce occasions. I do not use illegal drugs or legal drugs in an illegal manner. Even though I have no personal stake in the actual use of drugs I always remain a potential victim of someone who might do so because of our out dated laws that force such use underground.
With the upcoming elections in California with a measure to legalize marijuana, it should be apparent that the tide is turning...that Americans are growing tired of yet another "failed war" that costs us far to much and has so little return in the way of public safety and public health.
I would call for these steps.
- Total decriminalization or marijuana on a Federal Level.
- Release of all prisoners who are jailed for possession when no other crime is involved, and expunge records of those arrested so they can rejoin society without restrictions of their rights.
- Comprehensive study of the collateral damages of our existing war on drugs.
- Comprehensive study to determine the financial/tax implications of terminating the war on drugs and legalization of all drugs.
This study must include but not be limited to>
- Potential tax revenue from legal sales.
- Potential tax dollar savings from termination of enforcement
- Potential tax dollar savings from reduction in prison populations.
- Potential economic impact of halting the export of drug profits to other nations.
- Reduction of crime currently associated with illegal drug trade.
- Protection of public health through prevention of toxic additives and over dose.
I believe it is beyond time to get wise. Legalize drugs, tax them, set aside part of those tax proceeds to provide grants to states for treatment options.