So, if you are going to change to “recovery-based policies”, maybe you should start with Florida and consider whether smoking weed is heinous enough to merit this level of attention.
(e) Smart law enforcement that combines credible threats with modest sanctions. Through drug courts, for example, offenders are offered the chance to get their record cleared if they successfully complete treatment. Through testing and sanctions programs, probation violators are given modest jail stays that are swift and certain, rather than uncertain, distant, and severe. Such measures have yielded stellar results in localities where they’ve been implemented: less crime, lower rates of recidivism and substantial cost savings.
The panacea of drug courts is not what Dr. Sabet wants you to think it is. It sounds good – give drug users a shot at rehab instead of prison. But even ignoring my points above about so many pot smokers not needing to be in rehab, drug courts often leave the person worse-off than if they’d accepted their original prison sentence. These stats about “swift and certain” jail stays are padded by the fact that so many of the people being rehabbed don’t have a problem in the first place! If you catch an occasional pot smoker, force him into a bunch of rehab classes, test his pee on a random basis with the threat of jail if he fails, he’ll just abstain from pot, jump through your hoops, and the minute he’s free from rehab he’ll smoke a joint to celebrate – trust me, from too many first-hand accounts to mention.
Research uniformly reveals that under legalization, the price of drugs would fall substantially, thereby increasing consumption. Any taxes gained on legal drugs would be quickly offset by the social costs resulting from this increased use: witness how today society receives about $1 in alcohol and tobacco tax revenue for every $10 lost on the social costs of those two legal drugs. Increased drug use means increased costs, including those borne by American businesses as they deal with a high workforce, greater absenteeism and less productivity.
Seriously, Kevin, the whole “The Legal Drugs Are Awful!” reasoning isn’t even fooling the squares anymore. We all understand that alcohol and tobacco are toxic and addictive. The social costs from tobacco owe to huge health care costs for lung cancer and other diseases. The social costs from alcohol owe to health care costs from alcoholism as well as social mayhem costs from drunk driving and drunk assaults and murders.
However, a Canadian study shows the social per-user costs of alcohol to be eight times greater and tobacco to be forty times greater than the costs of a cannabis consumer. Where a smoker cost Canada $800 and a drinker cost $165, a toker cost only $20. So whatever tokers cost America, we’re bearing that cost now with absolutely no tax revenues to offset it. Bringing in some tax revenue combined with savings in law enforcement / court / prison expenditures could reap billions and more than offset any trivial social costs from marijuana use.
Furthermore, there is no guarantee that drug legalization would significantly diminish the underground market. In a legal market, where drugs are taxed, the well-established illegal drug trade has every incentive to remain. The drug trade is so profitable that even undercutting the legal (taxed) market price would leave cartels with a handsome profit. Drug legalization would also do nothing to loosen the cartels’ grip on other illegal trades such as human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and piracy.
Hmm, drug cartels make money on human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and piracy, so let’s continue to allow them to dominate the marijuana market as well. I don’t care how much or how little it may or may not affect the cartels’ business model, I don’t understand why we give torturing kidnapping Mexican extortionist pirate terrorist organizations any profit from marijuana.