Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A debate that should long be over

By way of BMJ I came across the latest publication from the International Centre for Science in Drug Control Policy, on cannabis prohibition in the U.S. (Yes, they spell it Centre, they can't help it, they're British.) Did you know that the U.S. drug enforcement budget, adjusted for inflation, increased from $1.5 billion in 1981 to more than $18 billion in 2002? And did you know that from 1990 to 2006, cannabis-related arrests increased from 350,000 to 800,000? Over the same time, seizures increased from 500,000 pounds to 2 and half million pounds?

Ahh, but the price fell.

All those people in jail, made into criminals; violent criminal enterprises destroying Mexican society; massive law enforcement resources, diverted. To what end? Didn't we learn anything from prohibition of alcohol, which happens to be a more addictive and more damaging drug than cannabis?

Regulate it, tax it, grow it in the U.S.A. We'll have a more peaceful, law abiding, richer society; a lot fewer people in jail and living with criminal records; actually have better luck restricting access by minors; painlessly increase government revenues and reduce wasteful spending; and everybody from the dirtiest fuckingest hippie on earth to the Cato Institute and Andrew Sullivan will donate to your re-election campaign. And of course, if the people in your state or county believe Jesus wants pot to be illegal, you don't have to go along.

So what are we waiting for.


roger said...

"california here i come, right back where i started from"... oh wait, i'm here already.

the public discussion here, as reported by the local press and tv, is amusing, tho in a tragicomedic sense. politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

Cervantes said...

Glad you know where you are, anyway.

Cervantes said...

BTW I sent you an e-mail and it bounced.

kathy a. said...

those are just astonishing figures. and the DEA budget -- if it was $18 billion in 2002, what is it now? -- is probably dwarved by the impact on prisons, prison populations, and costs associated with prosecution.

there has long been concern about the mandatory federal minimum sentences for drugs; sentencing disparities (e.g., crack will get you much more time than powder); people of lesser culpability being caught up in stuff (e.g., girlfriends who knew some stuff was there but weren't in the business, or the mules who distribute being in worse trouble than the kingpins); and both federal and state prison bursting with people who are in on drug charges.

as you also point out, criminal enterprises also result in violent crimes.

Anonymous said...

Here in Ontario, alcohol is regulated exactly like pot should be - you can only purchase it directly from the government (unless you're at a bar or restaurant) and the rules are very tightly enforced. In high school, getting booze for a party was a complicated ordeal, but getting weed at lunch was as easy as walking out to the smoker's pit! What a world.