Why Legalize Marijuana?
Support Law Enforcement and Prison Reform
- Since Ronald Reagan began his war on drugs in 1982, the US prison population has quadrupled: The US only has 5% of the world’s population, but we now have 25% of its prisoners — more than China. In 2007, arrests for marijuana possession alone totaled 775,138, greatly exceeding arrests forall violent crimes combined.
- There is no evidence that decriminalization of marijuana has increased use: In studies that compare rates of marijuana use in states that have decriminalized vs. states that haven’t, most of the evidence suggests that decriminalization has had no effect. European countries with less draconian drug laws have lower rates of use. And though it is purely anecdotal, it is nonetheless true that following the end of alcohol prohibition, consumption of alcohol actually went down.
Solve our Border Crisis
- Border security and immigration hysteria is being fueled by money going to drug cartels from marijuana smuggling: Contrary to popular belief, the shooting at the Mexican border which triggered the recent draconian Arizona search law was precipitated by a shooting over marijuana smuggling, not undocumented workers. To solve the border crisis, legalize marijuana.
- Ending marijuana prohibition could cut the profits of Mexican drug cartels by 60%, money that has enabled them to threaten the stability of Mexico: Recently outgoing head of the CIA, Gen. Michael Hayden, warned that drug cartels “threaten … the well-being of the Mexican people and the Mexican state.”
Driving Young Voter Turnout
- Drug arrests deny young people access to educational and other opportunities: A 1998 law denies financial aid to any student convicted of even a misdemeanor drug offense. The arrests produce a permanent criminal record, easily accessed on the internet, that can also keep applicants from getting a job, a loan or even an apartment. Over 200,000 students have lost their access to student loans over marijuana arrests.
- The issue of marijuana legalization is overwhelmingly popular with young voters: After the 2008 election, President-elect Obama conducted three rounds of voting on his official Transition Team Web site, asking users to submit ideas and vote on them. In all three rounds of voting questions related to taxing and regulating marijuana were the top vote getters.
- Marijuana legalization on the ballot is a strong incentive for young voters to turn out: A recent poll by AmericaVotes found that 47% of “surge” voters were more likely to turn out to vote in the midterm if marijuana legalization were on the ballot.
Billions in Tax Revenue
- Regulating marijuana like alcohol could generate significant tax revenue: According to a report authored by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron and endorsed by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman it would produce $40 billion a year in taxes. The California’s State Board of Equalization estimated legal, regulated, and taxed marijuana would generate $1.4 billion for the state annually. Prosecuting marijuana offenders contributes significantly to the current state budget crisis: Currently, one in every 15 dollars in the states’ main pools of discretionary money goes to corrections.