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On average, Americans spends about US$5 billions on marijuana every year or equivalent to 1% of the GDP, it is almost the same amount that alcohol contributes to the country’s GDP (Daryal). The only problem is that the marijuana revenue mostly goes into the pocket of drug syndicates and mafias because they comprise the largest portion of distribution in marijuana market. On the other hand, the federal government admits that the war on drugs is very expensive and the cost is untimely due to the current budget-crunch and federal deficits. In average each U.S. state spends about US$1 billion just to enforce marijuana laws. The top spenders in marijuana law enforcement are New York with US$3 billion, Texas with US$2 billion and the rest of the states spends between US$45 million to US$1 billion annually. Asa Hutchinson, the former DEA director mentioned in a CNBC interview that the cost to fight marijuana is worth it and the people should not mind the cost, but instead look into the benefits it would bring to the country.
However, it is quite difficult to see what the benefits really are, law enforcement says that criminalizing marijuana will reduce the number of accidents involving people under the influence of marijuana, reduce incidents of violence caused by intoxication of the drug, reduce the number of drug dependents and prevent the health risk that accompanies the use of marijuana. But these arguments to criminalize the use of marijuana are rather vague and unproven. Alcohol also intoxicates the drinker, which brings higher probability of vehicular accidents. Tobacco poses health risk to smokers after chronic use, but they are considered legal? Therefore, the reasons given to criminalize marijuana are just common thinking that are actually unjustified. It is ironic that the given effects of marijuana to the users that made it illegal are synonymous to the effects of alcohol and tobacco, yet they are legal.
The government should consider turning the cost to revenue by legalizing marijuana and grab the earning opportunity from the drug syndicates. Furthermore, pot prisoners are costing America about US$1 billion annually, which could have been used to improve the educational or health system of the country. Legalizing marijuana has a better budgetary implication that it’s continuous prohibition. Taking out marijuana from the illegal status would mean US$7.7 billion in total federal expenditure that could be used for national development and other programs that would have a more long-term benefit for the people. In addition, legalization of marijuana sales would contribute significant tax revenues ranging from US$2.4 billion to US$6.2 billion if going to be taxed like alcohol and tobacco. It doesn’t make sense that the government are spending too much to fight marijuana, when in fact the law and law enforcement efforts are inadequate in keeping marijuana from kids.
Government surveys indicate that senior high school students admit that getting marijuana as easy as ordering hamburgers and fries in the counter. This means that despite the billions of dollars that the government throw away to combat marijuana it still able to find its way under underground to the hands of young Americans. The common argument is that offenders have used marijuana and that it became the cause of their crime, but this argument is difficult to validate because scientific researches on the effect of marijuana to user are not strong enough to support the claim.