Friday, March 27, 2009

Obama Blows The Marijuana Question

Billed as an online Town Hall Meeting, President Obama answered questions submitted online. Similar questions received votes and a question that received a lot of votes was about legalizing Marijuana which led President Obama to quip, "I don't know what this says about the online audience. The answer is no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow the economy".

President Obama missed a golden opportunity to modernize America's archaic drug laws. To have a President that has written about his marijuana use and cocaine use, it is an abomination not to want to lead the Nation in a more civilized direction in regards to drug laws and policy.

In Congressional Testimony on March 14,1995, David Boaz, Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute revealed some startling statistics, and although over a decade old, these figures are still mind boggling. In 1995, Mr. Boaz revealed to Congress that drug enforcement efforts in the United States accounted for 15 Billion Dollars in expenditures. This figure did not add the cost of prosecution, detainment, parole officers, probation officers, child care for the children of marijuana users who were incarcerated and a whole litany of expenses that go along with Marijuana Prohibition.

The last Administration demonstrated a propensity to ignore the lessons of History, and now the Obama Administration is showing the same propensity. The lessons of Alcohol Prohibition are very clear. Prohibition was an abject failure which gave rise to some of the largest criminal organizations that America has ever seen. Organizations that became so rich and powerful from circumventing the Prohibition Laws that the Federal, State and Local Governments still spend an inordinate amount of resources trying to dismantle them. Prohibition laws failed because the PEOPLE wanted alcohol and no law was going to stop them. With over 40% of adults over the age of 18 admitting to marijuana use in surveys it is obvious that the American Adult wants Marijuana.

The History of Alcohol Prohibition is being repeated on a much larger scale with Marijuana Prohibition. The cost of enforcement as of 2005 is now calculated at over 8 Billion Dollars a year just on the Federal Level, this does not account for the local and State resources that are wasted combating an herb. The costs associated with Marijuana Prohibition does not end with the costs associated with enforcement, the costs are astronomical in the Criminal Justice System that in 1995 prosecuted 696,000 American Citizens for possession of a plant. The costs to prosecute Marijuana arrests entail, the booking officer, the mug shot, the fingerprinting, the record retrieval, the detention, the arraignment, the defense attorney, the court stenographer, the court room security, the Corrections Officers, transportation of the accused to and from the arrangement and all the ancillary services that go along with running an over crowed Criminal Justice Systems and Penal System.

The arrest, prosecution and captivity of the Marijuana offender is only the beginning of the detrimental economic effect that Marijuana prosecution causes to the society. The incarceration, the parole and or probation all add costs to the arrest of Marijuana possessors. Then there is the lost GDP that is caused by the loss of productivity because these people are incarcerated instead of working. There is child care costs for the children of incarcerated offenders that is shouldered by the local and state governments, and there is non-economic impact of breaking apart families which are already at a crisis point in being able to survive together because of the economic policies of the Republican Trickle Down Economic Theory that has still not trickled down since 1980.

President Obama promised change but is failing to deliver. Real change would be to examine and modernize Drug Prohibition laws not only for economic reasons but for civil and societal reasons. President Obama dismissed the question as if it was absurd. The speed and the growing properties of the marijuana plant also make it an ideal plant to produce paper, clothing, oil, and bio-mass fuel on minimal acreage. So you see Mr. President, there is nothing absurd about the question. What is absurd is that a supposed progressive Democrat, educated at Columbia, an admitted Marijuana User himself would dismiss an opportunity to correct decades of damage done by the medieval drug laws of the United States. Drug Laws that wreak families, cause the proliferation of crime, the build up of criminal enterprises, the over whelming of the judicial system and the over crowding of the American Penal System ans are currently wreaking havoc in our southern boarder States with Mexico.

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