Soft on crime, or soft in the head?

Would you be upset if you discovered that there was a federal agency which spent billions of dollars every year, and yet had not accomplished anything tangible?  Well, I am upset, because the Drug Enforcement Agency gets more money than NASA every year, and yet has not had any appreciable impact on drug use or availability in its nearly 30 years of existence.  What we have thrown away so far would have paid the majority of the cost of building a base on the Earth’s moon, or all of the cost of building a couple of space stations.  Why am I using space exploration to illustrate the size of the waste?  Because we have got to inspire people to be more than what they see around them.  Because we have to give our children something better than drugs, something which is a rush, and which creates a lasting sense of accomplishment, as well as the joy of learning what is important to them.

What is spent fighting the War On Drugs nationwide is staggering, and would easily have paid for both a space station and a moon base.  Many American local governments are throwing 70 percent or more of their annual budget, year in and year out, at their criminal justice system, which is made up of the police, the courts, and the corrections system.  In my town, the figure is closer to 8o percent of the budget that goes into that black hole of negativity called the criminal justice system.  Road maintenance has been deferred again and again, the traffic lights in many parts of town are over 30 years old, and the bus system only runs until about 1830 at night.

Yet, the more money that is thrown at drug use, the more crime is reported, the higher the profit margins for black marketers, and the greater the job security of those in corrections.  Routine traffic stops end up requiring several officers, and hours of paperwork, so that someone who was somewhat careless ends up in jail on drug charges.  Without the drug laws, the traffic stop would only take a few minutes, and create no permanent record.  Another casualty of the War On Drugs has been empathy and respect for the officers of the law who are the face of our national policies.  Even people who have never been involved in illegal activities are reserved about befriending police officers, and the profession has suffered extremely high levels of suicide, domestic violence, and divorce.

After an investment of a few thousand dollars, an expert botanist can produce a pound of grass, er, ah, marijuana for about 25 dollars, every three to four months.  That pound of grass will sell for at least 2,000 dollars, and possibly as much as 3,600 dollars.  This kind of profit is very appealing, and even grass grown outdoors, with little or no cultivation, can still bring in hundreds of dollars a pound.  These profits fuel gang wars, as well as corruption of police and judges.  The United States is the only country which treats marijuana as a dangerous drug, which doesn’t make sense, considering the overwhelming evidence that it is the most benign of the illegal drugs.

But legal marijuana would probably be very dangerous to the profits of a certain industry that is very powerful in the US.  Pharmaceutical companies potentially could lose billions of dollars in sales if grass were legalized, because it seems to be effective against an astounding number of ailments.  It would not surprise me in the least if the greed of the drug companies, as well as the prison industry, has been responsible for the relentless persecution of marijuana.  It was greed that got grass outlawed in the first place, so why should things be any different now?

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