Just Say No (aka: Obligatory Pot Post)
Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m late to the game on this. Gimme a break, I’ve been stoned out of my mind.
In all seriousness, I think Colorado (the two states that recently legalized recreational marijuana) is absolutely doing the right thing, and are setting a model the rest of the country needs to adopt. Even more than that, these new laws don’t go far enough, but we’ll get to that later.
So Colorado has officially been mile high (good one, Krisko, excellent original joke!) for 9 days now. And, SURPRISE!, Denver is not smothered in a smokey haze. In the first week, five million dollars of marijuana was sold, and with the many taxes put on this drug, that means well over a million dollars that goes back into the state. So believe it or not, pot sales are helping pay for ridiculous things like schools, roads and representative’s money laundering.
And let’s not forget the money saved by not incarcerating people simply for lighting up. In Colorado alone, 10,000 people per year were arrested for just marijuana crimes. Take into account the fact that incarcerating someone in Colorado costs, on average, over $65,000, and legalizing marijuana is a gigantic cost-cutting measure (something conservatives should absolutely be behind).
Once again, in 49 of the 50 states this is legal:
But this could get you up to ten years in prison:
Pretty fucked up, right? So now that I’ve got you completely convinced that pot should be legalized, what was I talking about earlier when I said legalizing pot doesn’t go far enough? Well, I think that use of all drugs should be decriminalized. Whoa, whoa, chill the fuck down and hear me out. I don’t think that drugs are good (for the purpose of the rest of this writing, pot and alcohol are not to be considered drugs). Meth ruins lives, cocaine causes a lot of damage to multiple organ systems, and heroin, while inspiring the best of the grunge movement, obviously isn’t good for one’s health.
So obviously drugs are bad for you. Nobody’s arguing that. I’m simply pointing out that locking people up for doing harm to themselves and not others is absolutely inane. Hell, 24% of prisoners say that it’s easy to get drugs in prison, and 6% of all prisoners go into prison without a drug problem but begin one while incarcerated. If you can’t even keep drugs out of the prisons, then what the fuck is the point of imprisoning people for drug use?
It’s not like decriminalizing drug use hasn’t been tried. In 2001 Portugal changed the use of drugs from a criminal violation to an administrative one, making possession about as punishable as a parking ticket. They realized that Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” policy is naive, and we will never rid the world of drugs, so the goal should be to minimize the damage done to people. Instead those arrested for drug crimes are treated as a health issue and are evaluated by a mental health professional. Addiction is treated as a disease, not a crime. Far from making Lisbon a tourist destination for those that want to fuck themselves up legally, what they’ve actually seen in the twelve years since this law was enacted is that addiction statistics has dropped by half (Portugal had the highest addiction rate in the EU before this law took effect).
America’s drug laws are expensive, invasive, and (most importantly) ineffective. By absolutely every metric there is absolutely no reason to keep up this War on Drugs. But our elected officials are too big of pussies to try to sell facts to their constituents, and instead prey off of their knee-jerk reactions. So while pot legalization seems to be just beyond the horizon, we’ve got a long way to go before we end these archaic laws that treat addicts like criminals. I’d say this is un-fucking-believable, but I pay attention to American politics and don’t really get shocked much anymore.