WSJ dares ask the question…by Jason Pye
Tired of hearing about violence at the Mexico border, the false claims of firearms coming from the United States that fuel the violence and the imprisonment of citizens who are doing nothing other than trying to help patients with medical problems? If so, the Wall Street Journal has a solution to drug war blues:
An administration really open to “change” would consider a long-term solution to the problem — ending the market for illegal drugs by eliminating their illegality. We cannot destroy the appetite for psychotropic drugs. Both animals and humans have an innate desire for the altered consciousness obtainable through drugs. What we can and should do is eliminate the black market for the drugs by regulating and taxing them as we do our two most harmful recreational drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
Marijuana presents the strongest case for this approach. According to some estimates, marijuana comprises about 70% of the illegal product distributed by the Mexican cartels. Marijuana will grow anywhere. If the threat of criminal prosecution and forfeitures did not deter American marijuana farmers, America’s entire supply of that drug would be home-grown. If we taxed the marijuana agribusiness at rates similar to that for tobacco and alcohol, we would raise about $10 billion in taxes per year and would save another $10 billion we now spend on law enforcement and imprisoning marijuana users and distributors.
I’ve never even so much as smoked marijuana, though smelled it frequently during my days playing in bands, legalization (or at least decriminalization) should be on the table. It’s a position that prominent conservatives like William F. Buckley, Jr and George Will have supported.
States faced significant budget shortfalls this year while thousands of non-violent drug offenders sit in prison. If you look at it from an economic issue, legalization or decriminalization would help states significantly.