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decriminalize the weed

September 15, 2009

Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico have all recently decriminalized possession of small quantities of marijuana, and one California lawmaker has famously advocated for legalization as a solution to that state’s budget crisis. Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor has reported that domestic marijuana farming has apparently risen sharply this year. In fact, domestic marijuana production generates revenue equivalent to 78% of that brought in by our highly subsidized and petroleum dependent corn industry:

The illegal American pot harvest is worth about $35 billion a year, according to government estimates. In comparison, the 2007 bumper corn crop in the US was worth approximately $45 billion.

Criminalizing the marijuana industry is a terrible way to regulate it. It drives up government expenses without generating tax revenues, it enriches violent criminals and fuels the arms trade, it increases incarceration rates, it destroys vital natural parks, and it apparently does nothing to reduce consumption:

The US Department of Health and Human Services reported Thursday in the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health that the number of Americans who report “current use” of pot rose from 14.4 million in 2007 to 15.2 million in 2008.

Yes, marijuana consumption can have negative effects. As can the consumption of alcohol and junk food. But why is it still illegal?

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