Tuesday, February 13, 2007

America's New King Of Crops

Marijuana is officially America's biggest cash crop according to a recent study authored by John Gettman, a prominent marijuana public policy activist. The current market value of pot grown inside the U.S., estimated at over $35 billion, exceeds that of the top 3 legal crops: corn, soybeans, and hay. Marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past 25 years despite fierce oppostion from law enforcement agencies. California is responsible for more than a third of the cannabis harvest, with an estimated production valued at $13.8 billion. Pot activists have used these statistics to highlight the commerical viability of the plant as well the ineffectiveness of the "War on Drugs".

Our economy would receive a significant boost if pot were legalized and taken off the black market. State governments could regulate and tax it, using the money to fund schools and infrastructure projects. Unfortunately, our federal government seems intent on escalating a costly, and deeply flawed campaign against "illegal drug use". Marijuana is a far less harmful drug than many legal drugs on the market today like alcohol, tobacco, ADD Medication such as Adderall and Ritalin(legalized speed for children), and anti-anxiety pills like Xanax and Valium. All of the drugs I have just listed have an extremely high potential for abuse, and tobacco and alcohol have cost our health care system millions of dollars. Nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose and there have been many well documented medicinal benefits from occasional use.

When I look at the War on Drugs and the current debacle in Iraq, I can't help but see some disturbing parallels. In both situations, our government has displayed an alarming resistance to using logic and factual evidence to make sensible policy decisions. Instead, U.S. policy makers choose to funnel obscene amounts of taxpayer money into funding crusades that they have no hope of ever winning. The Iraq War and the War on Drugs have been abject failures, and I believe it is time for our leaders to reassess their broken policies and stop wasting our money.

Prohibition has been historically ineffective; just look at the results of the ban on alcohol during the 1920's. Our government realized then that they were spending too much money on trying to ban a substance that was simply too popular and widely distributed. The same is true for marijuana today. The public's attitude towards pot has softened in recent years, especially in California. The San Francisco Police Department recently made busting pot users one of their lowest priorities, essentially making cannabis all but legal. A few years ago, members of the city government were even considering purchasing land within San Francisco County to be used for marijuana cultivation. Santa Cruz attempted to legalize pot a few years back but the federal government immediately intervened and stopped the process. Do policymakers that reside 3,000 miles away really have a clear picture of what is good for Californians? Probably not.

I am a strong suppporter for the legalization of marijuana. I don't believe that making it available for legal consumption would degrade or harm our society and I highly doubt we would see a spike in usage. Many people try pot and don't like it. Most adults who smoke pot are intelligent, hard working members of our society who don't deserve to be treated like criminals. There are far more pressing problems facing our federal government right now; global warming, terrorists, globalization, health care, etc. Why are they wasting our money on a drug policy that has been proven over and over again to be ineffective?


mdrennan said...

Hey Alex, it's great to see you're keeping up your blog and taking on a wide range of socially relevant topics. I'm subscribed now and looking forward to lots more good reading -- MD

Melora said...

People should read this.