There are more arrests made on marijuana charges than
violent crimes combined. These violent crimes include
assault, rape, robbery and murder. To put it simply,
this is unacceptable.
Marijuana arrests have doubled from 1991 to 2000,
as arrests regarding cocaine and heroine have decreased
by one-third. More that 700,000 people are arrested
on marijuana charges each year.
Are the police resources devoted to marijuana use
taking away from policing in other areas? A state-commission
Drug Advisory Group in New Mexico asked the same question,
supporting the decriminalization of marijuana because
it would free up already exhausted resources and save
the state millions of dollars.
Why are all these funds being spent on prosecuting
and policing marijuana when perfectly legal substances,
like alcohol and tobacco, are readily available? Thousands
of people die each year from alcohol and tobacco related
accidents, disorders, and illnesses. Every thirty
minutes, one person loses their life because of alcohol.
This number is even higher for tobacco, with 35 million
people now living with a chronic lung disease and
342,000 people dying from lung disease each year.
These numbers do not take into account the individuals
who die from cancer. If there is such a thing as a
gateway drug, the two leaders have been found and
they are completely legal.
Decriminalizing marijuana is not going to lead to
increased use of marijuana. In countries that have
decriminalization policies, use is actually lower
or comparable to use in countries where it is restricted.
In 1997, the Connecticut Law Review found that states
that have the strictest laws against marijuana use
actually have experienced the largest increase in
use and there is no study that can scientifically
prove that the use of marijuana will lead to the use
of harder illegal drugs. And with the amount of money
spend on prosecuting, policing and housing offenders;
criminalizing marijuana does not deter the use of
Legalizing marijuana has many things to offer. Besides
freeing up funds to state agencies and city police
forces, it also frees up manpower and resources for
violent crimes, instead of tying time and money up
in chasing a non-violent crime such as marijuana use.
Legalized, it could provide many jobs at a time when
jobs are much needed. Taxing marijuana would also
provide more money for policies geared towards helping
the country as a whole. It could help many states
that are finding themselves closer and closer to bankruptcy
gain much-needed funding.
References and Resources:
Marijuana Arrests and Incarceration in the United
States. 1999. The Federation of American Scientists'
Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin.
New Mexico Governor's Drug Policy Advisory Group.
2001. Report and Recommendations to the Governor's
Office. State Capitol: Santa Fe.
Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2000. Drugs and Crime
National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine
(IOM). 1999. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the
Science Base. National Academy Press: Washington,
E. Single et al. 2000. The Impact of Cannabis Decriminalization
in Australia and the United States. Journal of Public
Health Policy 21: 157-186.
Connecticut Law Review Commission. 1997. Drug Policy
in Connecticut and Strategy Options: Report to the
Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut Assembly. State