17 April 05
Ganja: should it be legalised?
My reading has led me to believe there are various solutions available that would go some way to solving the problem of prison overcrowding. In this blog entry I am going to suggest a simple government policy change that could reduce overcrowding. Although this idea will be considered radical by some, it is supported by such people as Milton Friedman.
According to the book You Are Being Lied To there are more prisoners incarcerated for marijuana charges in the US than the entire prison population of Europe. A solution to prison overcrowding could be the government legalising weed and selling it at cost. What would that achieve? Imagine the reduced stress on the justice and prison systems if all nondangerous
pothead prisoners were freed and all prosecutions against those on remand were discontinued. Prison overcrowding could be ended almost overnight.
The benefits to society would be enormous, but vested interests have sensationalised the dangers of weed in order to maintain the status quo. Marijuana is not the most dangerous of drugs. Highly addictive nicotine is the biggest killer, yet it is legal. Alcohol causes half of the total deaths from traffic accidents each year. The Founding Fathers grew hemp, yet adults are now jailed for lifestyle choices that do no harm to other people. I am amazed that potheads are being arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned by people who either smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol or pop prescription pills. (Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist was addicted to sleeping pills.)
One of the reasons why weed is not legalised is because the game of cops and pushers generates money for various agencies and contractors. Legalisation would deprive the DEA and other law enforcement agencies of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money. Pretending to stop drugs is big business. The money that is being frittered away should be going to education, healthcare, and the pension system, instead, it is wasted on a charade that is having zero effect on drug crimes.
Just over a century ago Western governments were selling opium – a more dangerous drug than pot – to the population of China. Our governments use propaganda to justify whatever is most lucrative to them at the time. Locking up nondangerous potheads seems to be a senseless waste of economic resources that profits elite vested interests at the expense of the majority.
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