Yeah, why NOT legalize at least marijuana?

George Will is hardly a liberal. That’s why his argument (click!) , which is also my argument, that  drugs need to be legalized, is so compelling.

It is a distinctly conservative argument.

The war on drugs is enormously expensive. Balance the budget? Not as long as we’re willing to spend $100,000 to jail some mope who sold $200 worth of pot.

It’s enormously wasteful. We’re jailing millions of “criminals” for what are essentially victimless crimes.

It’s enormously ineffecient. If prison is supposed to punish drug users, why do we then continue to punish them after they get out of jail by refusing to hire them? Oh, right, they have a record.

So, denied any other option, they go right back to crime and after three years or so in prison, they’re better at it.

Will has been campaigning this for  years. So have other conservatives — hasn’t gone anywhere and won’t. There’s too much money in the drug war. Too many cops depend on it, too many in the cartels depend on it, too many politicians maintain their careers campaigning against it.

The war on drugs will never go away. Neither will the drugs. As long as Americans continue to vote with their pocketbooks — $15 to $20 billion a year goes south for drugs that we spend an equally large pile of tax dollars trying to get Americans to not use — we will have this impossible situation.

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29 Responses to Yeah, why NOT legalize at least marijuana?

  1. Myth Buster says:

    The Opium Wars of the late 1800′s proved very successful for the Ivy League; Clipper Ships taking Opium and Gold Rush era men down onn their luck to Shanghai where a generation of Chinese Men forsook their families for Opium Dens.
    The Burma Opium Triangle; Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia was so lucrative for the Catholic Church it became known as “Spelly’s War” after Cardinal Francis Spellman. Dissenters were summarily disposed of in Operation Phoenix.
    The Golden Triangle is massively successful as 96% of the world heroin market is grown and guarded by the US military in Afghanistan.
    Hemp became illegal beginning with DuPont’s Nylon Rope production; the most beneficial plant in human history, used for a near complete protein, rope, sails, shoes, clothing, medicine, paper and soil conservation went the way of DDT for purely nefarious reasons. Legalizing Marijuana would cut into the profits of the elite in a big way.

  2. Ryan says:

    You spelled rediculous wrong. I agree with Mark Twain that it is sad when a person only knows how to spell a word one way, but unfortunately, many of the people commenting on these boards only know how to read a word if it is spelled a particular way.

    • Charles Trentelman says:

      my spelling is more eclectic. Did you know the Founding Fathers spelled words many different ways?

      If non-standard spelling was good enough for George Washington, it’s good enough for me.

    • Pearlie Girl says:

      Since you like to identify errors…here’s one. The proper use of the English language dictates that the word “wrong” is an inappropriate usage to describe something that is incorrect. Furthermore, the manner in which you utilized “wrong” is incorrect. The correct way to describe the error, is with an adjective. Since the adjective is tied to the verb, you will, in most cases, attach a descriptor, followed by the letters ly. In this case you could have used erroneously, poorly, incorrectly, etc.

    • Michael Trujillo says:

      From the Declaration of Independence:

      “… and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” Using “effect” (a noun) when they should have used a verb “affect”.
      “shewn” – obviously “shown”
      “harrass” for “harass”
      “He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, …” “Brittish” for “British”

      I don’t think Charles is in bad company.

  3. hawg says:

    it cracks me up when liberals try to qualify their whole existence by pointing to the occassional conservative who agrees with the occassional issue. ( I heard a sound bite somewhere of obama trying to compare himself to reagen) yet you don’t hear charles telling us bush was right because obama kept us in iraq, bush was right because obama continues to keep us in afghanistan, or bush was right because obama kept guantamano opne. why’s that?

    anyway charles, which is it? you mention the failed war on “drugs” but only mention legalizing marijuana. did you mean the failed war on marijuana? or do you think we should legalize them all? are some drugs worthy of a war and search warrants but others not? OK, which ones and why? or should meth and lsd and heroin be legalized also? can you clarify? thanks

    • ctrentelman says:

      i’d be cool with legalizing them all, and have said so in the past. However, Mr. Will is setting a more feasibly attainable goal and I’m happy to agree with him.

      Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t go farther.

  4. Efialtis says:

    Some thoughts:

    Maybe I just don’t understand how people believe they can “have their cake and eat it too”.
    Just looking at things from a purely “community health and wellness” standpoint, I wonder how anyone could “legalize” any drug; including alcohol and tobacco.

    We may end up with Obamacare. If so, our tax dollars will go toward those who suffer the ill effects of “drug use”, be them legal or illegal.
    Has anyone ever bothered to ask, “why do people who smoke pay higher insurance rates?” It is because they pose a more substantive risk to the pool. Just like SR22 insurance for car drivers who are involved in too many accidents.

    Yet, the Liberals have now dictated that we must all have insurance and that no-one can be turned down. This sounds great on the surface, but if you look deeper, it means that there will be many of the “high risk” people included in the insurance pool, causing the rates for EVERYONE to go up.
    Then, to make matters even worse, when (not if) they decide they must ration healthcare; instead of rationing for those who engage in high risk behaviors, they will look to the elderly and terminally ill. You cannot say it won’t happen, because it IS happening in other countries that have socialized medicine.

    The “smart” thing to do would be to let people pay for the choices they make. If you choose to drink, and you get cirrhosis, well, your problem. If you smoke and you get cancer… your problem. If you exercise, eat right, again, your problem.
    This way, you could go ahead and legalize drugs. Manufacture the drugs here, regulate the industry with the FDA, etc. This would create jobs and tax revenue here in the US. Then, if someone gets neurological problems, due to their use of crack, well, their problem.

    Now, I know the other side of the argument will be “but they will get treatment at the hospital and then they will stick the hospital and the tax payer with the bill.
    To seek treatment (or goods and services) with the intent to NOT pay for it is “fraud” and people go to jail when they commit fraud…
    So we would be putting those that “scam the system” in jail… in essence, putting drug users in jail — not for using drugs, but for healthcare fraud — which is what is already happening (just for different reasons)
    It isn’t fair, it isn’t right, to expect everyone else to pay for some people’s bad choices.

    So we either get “socialized medicine” OR “legalize drugs”…
    Doing both would be a strain on an already strained system

    • Buzzby says:

      You realize, do you not, that putting poor people in jail for going to the emergency room would cost tax payers around $50,000 a year? Aren’t three million people behind bars enough for you? (Do you own stock in private prisons?)

      • efialtis says:

        Part of the point I was trying to make was just that…
        If we leave drugs illegal we send people to jail
        If we put people in jail for abusing (fraud) the HealthCare system, well, nothing has changed…

        It is something to consider…

    • Anti-control says:

      Ive never heard of anyone going to the hospital because they smoked a joint. Get real. A lot of people have gone to jail for it which is nuts. All you know about marijuana is that someone told you its bad! Sure are a lot of people doing it. I say make it legal ASAP.

    • SDeGraaf says:

      Trust me, prohibition is sure to follow Obamacare. Once they have control of health care, they have control of every aspect of the individuals life because every aspect of an individual’s life can be tied back to his health. What you eat, drink, drive, ride, do for hobbies, activities, literally everything you do. It opens wide the gaping jaws of tyranny to be used at the whim of whatever type of politician walks the halls of government. Government will have power to ban anything it deems dangerous to the welfare of the individual, and in the end it will deem individual liberty, too dangerous.

  5. Bones says:

    The last 2 posts are cop loving fools! Whenever I see ef and hawg I just skip right over to the next because they both are evil death barons that are about as sickening as puke,barf or defacation.

  6. glenn kearl says:

    This isnt a left or right issue. Its a common sense issue. How many people are running around on drugs because they are so stressed out or hurting they cant cope. Do you know that a lot of doctors would rather prescribe marijuana than the pills they are forced to prescribe? At this time pot is Americas largest cash crop! Do people not know how much money there is to be made from making pot legal? Billions and billions in taxes alone! Nothing changes in places where pot is legal. Life goes on just the same as before. Its a new world. I wish Utah lawmakers would let us join it. We should be able to make our own choices, not be controlled by the thought police!

  7. Malcolm Kyle says:

    According to the CATO Institute, ending prohibition would save roughly $41 billion of expenditure while generating an estimated $46 billion in tax revenues. – http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/DrugProhibitionWP.pdf

    Thanks to prohibition we now have far more people locked in cages than would normally be the case. Apart from the fact that these extra prisoners are not contributing economically to society, it also costs $50,000 per annum to incarcerate them. Additionally their families often go on government assistance, and it’s again the average tax payer who has to pick up the bill. Their kids may be taken into care or raised by foster parents, again with tax payer money. Now add to all this the court costs, jail costs, and the salaries of all those people that have to deal with the enforcement of prohibition, like police officers, judges and public defenders and you’ll start to get a fair idea of why “Black Thursday,” Oct. 24, 1929 happened during the period of another of our great experiments – alcohol prohibition.

    * The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

    * 743 adults incarcerated per 100,000 population at year-end 2009.

    * 2,292,133 adults were incarcerated federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2009, that’s approx. 1 percent of US adults.

    * Additionally, 4,933,667 adults at year-end 2009 were on probation or parole.

    * In total, 7,225,800 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, or incarcerated) in 2009 — about 3.1 percent of adults in the U.S. resident population.
    Prohibition has helped fill our prisons and jails to capacity. Violent criminals, murderers, rapists and child molesters are released early to create space for so called ‘drug offenders’. Half of court trial time and also a huge chunk of police officers time is pointlessly wasted. Enormous untaxed profits from illegal drugs fund multi-national criminal empires which bribe law enforcement authorities and spread corruption faster than a raging bush fire. Prohibition takes violent criminals and turns them into multi-billionaires whilst corrupting even entire countries, including our own. Our drug laws are also funding the Taliban and al-Qaeda whose illegal opium profits allow them to buy weapons and pay its fighters more than $300 a month, compared with the $14 paid to an Afghan police officer.

    Maybe many of the early Prohibitionists did not really intend to kill hundreds of thousands worldwide, or put once in every 30 American adults under supervision of the correctional system. But similar to our “Great Experiment” of the 1920s, the prohibition of various other drugs has once again spawned rampant off-the-scale criminality & corruption, a bust economy, mass unemployment, a mind-boggling incarceration rate, a civil war in Mexico, an un-winnable war in Afghanistan and an even higher rate of drug-use (both legal & illegal) than in all other countries that have far more sensible policies.

    Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.

  8. SDeGraaf says:

    Trust me, prohibition is sure to follow Obamacare. Once they have control of health care, they have control of every aspect of the individuals life because every aspect of an individual’s life can be tied back to his health. What you eat, drink, drive, ride, do for hobbies, activities, literally everything you do. It opens wide the gaping jaws of tyranny to be used at the whim of whatever type of politician walks the halls of government. Government will have power to ban anything it deems dangerous to the welfare of the individual, and in the end it will deem individual liberty, too dangerous.

    • Charles Trentelman says:

      if “obamacare” were a government take over of health care you might, maybe, sort of, if you squint, have a point, maybe.

      However, since it is not, but simply requires existing health insurance companies to operate differently, yu don’t.

      And your fears of government takeover of the lives of the sick are groundless — no other “socialist” health care system in the world seems to have that problem, mostly I suspect because they know the people wouldn’t tolerate it.

      So rein in that paranoia — people who think “government will rule our lives!” forget that that can only happen if you let it. Considering that government has proven itself powerless to even get people to drive the speed limit, I’d say those are not real worries.

      You want real control of your life and health decisions? Chat with your doctor about what your insurance will or won’t let the doctor do for you some time.

      • efialtis says:

        “people who think “government will rule our lives!” forget that that can only happen if you let it. ”

        You forgot the “golden rule”… he who has the gold, makes the rules.
        In the case of Obamacare, if you don’t have the money for insurance, you get it, paid for by the US Taxpayer via the Government.
        If you do a quick search for Healthcare Rationing, you come up with several articles from sources like “New York Times”, “Forbes”, and “Los Angeles Times”…

        Further, in ALL countries with Socialized Medicine, there are boards set up for rationing healthcare, like http://www.nice.org.uk, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124451570546396929.html and many other examples exist.

        You are correct, it can only happen here if we let it, which is why more than HALF the states have filed suit to stop it, and why it is currently before the Supreme Court.

        You don’t fix a problem suffered by about 7% of the population by affecting 100% of the population. You simple fix the problem for that 7% and move on.

  9. Rick Bolin says:

    Great points, Malcolm. In the end it is all about the money and the perpetual momentum to keep the status quo.

  10. rls says:

    … short answer — prohibition of alcohol created more problems than it solved … prohibition of marijuana is doing the same thing … how long before we wake up and repeal prohibition of marijuana, too …

  11. packsoldier says:

    Regardless of what your views are on drug legalization, it’s completely asinine and dishonest to blame the Drug War for the massive debt we’ve incurred. Nothing will stop the debt from growing until we have meaningful entitlement reform.

    Now go blame the GOP for wanting to shove your grandma down the stairs. Let’s borrow and spend some more!

    • Decider says:

      First, let’s get those two Bush/GOP UNFUNDED wars and those TAX-BREAKS FOR THE RICH paid for. Then those TAX ENTITLEMENTS that allow the smug super rich to shelter income, close factories and profiteer with cheap non-US labor and LEECH off the middle class.
      THEN . . . keep your GREEDY FILCHIN’, SNEAK-WEASEL, GOP FINGERS OFF MY ENTITLEMENTS and SMIIIIILE before you try pushin’ ME down any stairs. -Grandpa

  12. Harry Anslinger says:

    Alcohol prohibition contributed greatly to marijuana being popular in the US. The bureaucracy created to combat alcohol prohibition, then was used to demonize cannabis, and caused it to be prohibited under the marihuana tax stamp act of 1937. In the 1960s Timothy Leary was arrested for pot and his case went all the way to the supreme court where they found the marihuana tax stamp act to be unconstitutional. In response the Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The united states then caused the UN to amend the single convention on drugs, forcing the world to say (among many things) that marijuana was a schedule one drug.

    Yet every government sponsored study from the 1890s to present have all concluded that cannabis is a relative benign substance and should not be prohibited.
    So, some would throw the government studies (including UK studies) at me that say it is a harmful drug. Well any self-respecting scientist that looks at the data and the language of these studies, mocks them with scorn for misleading unsuspecting lay people. (a reefer madness propaganda refrain)

    Yes, the government deliberately lies about marijuana and i’m not exactly sure why. I do suspect it has something to do with religion.

    Fact; the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco kills over 5 million people world wide every year, (more than 2x Utah’s population) yet cannabis, tea, muggles, reefer has never killed anyone in the 10,000 years of recorded human history. The earliest written human records included cannabis.

  13. Myth Buster says:

    The Global Hawk Drone costs $178 Million, up from the initial cost of $112 Million because of the additional cargo carrying capability needed to shuttle processed Opium “Heroin” out of Afghanistan through Balochistan Pakistan. If Marijuana were legalized, let alone Heroin as it was less than 100 years ago, how would we justify these pilotless vehicles that cost more than a B-747?

  14. A kid says:

    I dont see y alcohol is legal when it makes u wanna go out n do crazy things. marijuana makes u wanna chill. marijuana is safer than alcohol.. just sayin.

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