We know that there are a million reason to legalize, but here are our top seven. What are yours? Sound off on Facebook.
1. The Incarceration Rates Are Ridiculous
In 2011, an American was arrested for a marijuana-related crime every 42 seconds. Somehow, that rate -- which adds to 757,969 arrests per year -- is actually a marked decrease from 2010, when there were 853,838 marijuana-related arrests.
2. Enforcement is Really Racist
According to a report issued by the ACLU in June of 2013, African-Americans are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession of marijuana. In other words, even though white people smoke marijuana at virtually the same rate as African-Americans, they are far less likely to face arrest or even suspicion. New York City’s stop-and-frisk is perhaps the worst and most racially biased perpetrator. As we reported earlier this month, a federal judge has rejected the stop-and-frisk program as racist -- probably because 87% of the 440,000 people arrested under the policy were blacks or Latinos.
3. Medicinal Purposes
The list of medical conditions to which marijuana is applicable boggles the mind. From various forms of cancer to acute anxiety, doctors have found countless uses for that most medicinal of herbs. As the list continues to grow, the number of skeptics is bound to diminish. Sanjay Gupta is merely the latest medical marijuana convert.
4. Weed is (Much) Healthier than Alcohol or Tobacco
In the United States -- and in most of the world -- a medicinal plant that has never caused a single recorded death is, according to federal law, a dangerous and illegal drug. Meanwhile, tobacco, a widely known carcinogen, may be legally consumed by anyone 18 and older. Even more ridiculous is the juxtaposition of alcohol to cannabis induced deaths: 25,692 Americans died via alcohol overdose in 2010 compared to 0 via cannabis.
5. Prohibition Costs the Government $20 Billion Annually
Earlier this year, Jeffrey Miron told The Huffington Post that Marijuana prohibition costs the federal government $20 billion per year. The senior lecturer from Harvard noted in a separate report from 2010 that the feds could rake in around $8.7 billion per year by taxing and regulating marijuana while saving another $8.7 billion on enforcement. When adjusted for inflation, the overall savings comes to a whopping $20 billion.
6. Gang Violence
It’s no secret that Mexican and Central and South American drug cartels traffic marijuana -- and cocaine, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs -- into the U.S. It’s also no secret that these same cartels have killed tens of thousands of people during Mexico’s constantly escalating drug wars. While expert opinions vary on how much full scale legalization in the U.S. would affect cartel profits in the long run, they generally concur that, at the very least, legalization would deal a sharp short-term blow to cartel profits.
7. The War on Marijuana is Already Lost
Fighting marijuana -- and fighting drug use via heavy-handed law enforcement tactics in general -- has failed. 48% of Americans now say they have used marijuana at least once in their lives, up from 40% two years ago. That means that more Americans have used marijuana at least once than at any time in the nation’s history. More importantly, a majority of Americans now favor full legalization. It’s only a matter of time now.