Well, miracles never cease! The conservative columnist, George F. Will, writes that it’s time to legalize drugs! I couldn’t believe my eyes to read his piece in The Drug Legalization Dilemma
. The fact that Will, of all journalists, is advocating for the legalization, or, at the least, decriminalization of marijuana shows just how far this conversation has taken us. We know that 16 states and the District of Columbia have legal medical marijuana laws and that another 12 states have (or had) bills pending. Thanks to Rep. Mike Manypenny (D), HB 4498
, was introduced into the WV State legislature, but died there when the session ended in March. Hopefully, Rep. Mike Manypenny will bring up his bill again next year. So what else do we know? Thanks to George Will, we know that less than 1 percent of the American people – or about 3 million people – use illegal drugs. We know that more Americans are imprisoned for drug offenses or drug-related probation and parole violations than for property crimes. We know that America spends five times more jailing drug dealers than it did 30 years ago. We know that imprisoning the low-ranking street dealer is pointless because a $200 transaction can cost society $100,000 for a three-year sentence. We know that upon being released from prison, this dealer will less likely to find meaningful employment or be able to legally support a family, and will more likely return to the profession he knows best – selling drugs. We know that our prisons are bulging at the seams and creating serious financial concerns for the states. We know that the people most benefiting from building prisons are the corporations that own them. We know that the alcohol industry makes billions of dollars off a legal drug and has a vested interest in seeing that this continues. Just a few weeks ago, President Obama attended the Summit of the Americans in Cartagena, Colombia. Known now for the Secret Service prostitution scandal, at this Summit Mexican President Calderon, Guatemala’s President Otto Perez Molina, Colombian President Juan Manual Santos, leaders from Brazil, Chile, Spain and other countries engaged the United States in a conversation about the legalization/decriminalization of drugs. Having waged a multi-year battle with criminal organizations whose principal source of revenue is the illicit drug traffic to the United States, they called for alternatives to the failed prohibitionist policies. When Mexico abuts the largest consumer market in the world, Calderon said last year, the United States should consider “market alternatives” if it were unable to reduce its demand for illegal drugs. Obama’s reply to the Latin American leaders was essentially the same as Biden’s was last month: “There are more problems with legalization than non-legalization.” “It’s worth discussing,” Biden told reporters, “but there’s no possibility the Obama-Biden administration will change its policy on legalization.” Thanks again to George Will for broaching this subject. Thanks to Michelle Alexander’s new must-read, The New Jim Crow
, illuminating the many problems of this so-called War on Drugs and its relation to the black community. And thanks to Tim Wise’s Dear White America
where he writes: “How, after all, can the United States remain an economically viable nation if we get to that place thirty years from now where people of color are half of the population, and yet still twice as likely as whites to be unemployed and three times as likely to be poor? …… The answer is that we cannot, and will not. ” The conversation is started. One can only hope that Obama will see things a little differently in his second administration. We, as a people, are very short-sighted. We see things only as they pertain to us at the moment. This myopic outlook spells disaster. This is my rant today.