Do you remember, dear reader, sitting in a Drug Abuse Resistance Education class in elementary school, taking that solemn and sacred vow to never touch drugs? We do. Statistically, most of you have broken that oath. It’s no secret that a sizable portion of the college demographic has experimented with cannabis in one of its many forms.
With more and more evidence coming out each day about the plant’s medicinal effects, many states have decriminalized it, legalized it for medical purposes or flat-out legalized it for consumption by individuals over the age of 21. While the drug is becoming more and more common, it still remains illegal on the federal level and is classified in the same category as drugs like heroin and opium.
While, like most things in life, cannabis consumption has its highs and lows, there is not a single shred of validated scientific evidence that says marijuana ought to be classified in the same sphere as heavy drugs that kill people.
Regardless, an article published in The Washington Post this Wednesday claimed those arrested for marijuana possession outnumber those arrested for all violent crimes combined. According to the article, at least 137,000 people get arrested for drug possession charges each day. This is absolutely absurd.
The war on drugs was an absolute failure. Our legal system already has enough clutter as it is, and it should not be wasting its time on usually victimless crimes. Drug offenses ought to be considered a matter of public health rather than a question of criminal behavior. But while it is a reality in some countries, which have all found immense success in terms of reducing drug use, overdoses and illegal purchases, the American justice system lags behind. Why?
Pursuing drug-related crimes, while bogging down our legal system, also funds the system immensely. Private prisons would see a sharp decline in population. Lawyers would have reduced caseloads. This editorial, however, is not about drugs as a whole. Just simple marijuana decriminalization would be sufficient to see some of these impacts. Allegedly.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible that taxes could be taken from the purchases of marijuana and put back into the economy. Colorado has built entire schools and roads to those schools solely off the revenue received in taxable marijuana. The U.S. was a nation founded on the cash crops of tobacco and cotton. For us to reject marijuana as the next step simply because outdated propaganda tried to combat it against industries like wood is simply foolish.
Regardless of the finances, the fact that young, bright lives are ruined because they’re found with plants in their glove compartments is beyond unacceptable. It’s an embarrassment for our great country. Statistically, American prisoners make up a little more than 4 percent of the global population, and nearly a quarter — 22 percent, to be exact — of the global population of prisoners. Are we to be proud of the fact that when it comes to incarcerating our constituents, we’re the best?
Because of outdated drug laws, we take away the futures of so many of our talented neighbors. Do you remember the rhetoric surrounding marijuana in our D.A.R.E. classes? That’s where it starts. Law reflects the opinions of those who create it, and we as Americans ought to reconsider the education we provide for our youth so that we can hope they have futures in universities, not in for-profit prisons.