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Cost Of Criminalization

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The Costs of Criminalization Over the last 18 years, 23 state governments have legalized marijuana, taxonomically known as cannabis sativa, for medicinal use. Voters in these states have declared that the federal government has scheduled marijuana inaccurately, in that cannabis has many medical uses. Medical professionals in these states prescribe marijuana as a treatment for ailments ranging from insomnia and muscle pain, to post traumatic stress and epilepsy. But recently, we have seen a shift in marijuana reformation movements throughout the country. Since 2012, the electorate in 3 states and Washington DC have decided that marijuana should also be legalized for use as a recreational drug, to be sold, regulated, and taxed in a manner similar…show more content…
But the financial benefits of legalization go beyond taxing the sale of marijuana and keeping drug money out of the hands of criminals. All across the nation, wherever the drug is illegal, state and local governments spend enormous sums of money on the enforcement of marijuana laws, the prosecution of offenders, and incarceration of the convicted. The Wall Street Journal estimates that the American taxpayer spends $40 billion per year on the administrative costs associated with the criminalization of marijuana (Becker). On the state level, we can again look to the example of Colorado. Conservative estimates by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy show that legalization will save the state $40 million per year by no longer administering marijuana laws (Drug Policy Alliance). In a time when American cities like Detroit are filing for bankruptcy, and state governments continually struggle to balance their budgets, Colorado has seen massive positive change by bringing this once underground market into the…show more content…
A final factor to consider when looking at the reformation of federal marijuana laws are the social costs associated with the criminalization of cannabis. The American federal government, through the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, categorizes drugs based on their potential for abuse and possible medical uses. A schedule V drug is considered to have clear medical efficacy and a low potential for abuse, while a schedule I drug is considered to be highly addictive and of no medical value. Of all the schedule I drugs, considered federally to be the most dangerous of controlled substances, only marijuana has been legalized on a state level, in direct conflict with Federal law. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, these federal laws, constituting America 's "war on drugs," have led America to imprison more people per capita than any other nation in the world (The Drug War). Initiated during the Nixon administration in the early 1970 's, vast amounts of Americans have been incarcerated for marijuana related offenses since this "war" began, leading to an environment where an enormous number of American men will be arrested in their
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