Fiscally 'real' life...
This may lose me some readers, but I have a suggestion to help turn the economy around. Decriminalize pot. Before you run screaming or start yelling at me, there are things to consider, cost-wise. (And no, I don't use it, although I have...at night before I went to sleep. Very relaxing, and the dreams were delightful. Now - not in the midwest I won't...it's not treated nearly as casually as it is in California.) Anyway, that said:
For those with a head for studies, here is a very on-point website: http://www.drugpolicy.org/library/thies2.cfm
For those who like their information pre-chewed: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/?c=columns&id=255&inc=article&x=drug-roar-20080429_c=columns&id=255&inc=article&x=drug-roar-20080429
For a purely fiscal point of view, consider these direct and indirect costs (in no particular order):
- relieve law enforcement of pursuit of small sales (up to, say, 2 oz) for personal use and get them back to big-time drug- and crime-fighting.
- get personal use out of the courtroom and free up huge time/cost factor, unclogging court calendars for more important issues. If you've never considered the cost of one prosecution of a personal-use bust, start with the cost of the court clerk, thru wages of prosecutor, court stenographer (or whatever they're called these days), Judge, bailiff...see where I'm going with this?...
- upon conviction, the cost of jail for the convicted person. If probation, you have to factor in the wages of the probation officer.
- absolutely the worst possibility... it might be the third offense (and remember, an ounce of pot can be a felony in some states) and that might be -- and in some cases IS -- a mandatory 25-life sentence. Can you picture anyone doing 25 years for being caught with a grams-sized bit of grass? Well, it's happening. And if you thought the cost of trying a personal-use case is excessive, do a little research on the costs of housing/feeding one inmate in general population for one year, then multiply that by 25. Check this site for state-by-state acceptance (or not) of use/cultivation... it will make you dizzy.
- Also, there is the cost of international pursuit of growers and their 'middle-men.' Free up THOSE officials/officers to pursue the cocaine/heroine/etc hard drug conglomerates. On the "positives" side, regulate and tax it like we do cigarettes, which are WAY more dangerous to one's health. Make driving while high the same as DUI (and take the impaired driver's license away while usage is under determination). Make adding ingredients to the mix to make it addictive a MAJOR felony with mandatory prison time (I personally think this should be in place for cigarette companies...). Regulate it thru the FDA.
Not only would this one simple decriminalization decrease the costs to the
cities/counties/state/feds, it would increase revenues of those same entities. It would allow those with diseases for which pot is indicated to use it without fear and/or guilt. It might even redirect potential alcoholics to a 'mood altering substance' which is far less likely to cause health/social problems.
And to the folks that have fallen for the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug...use your head. If marijuana is legal, you've removed the 'gate.' If it is no longer on the drug dealers' list of substances, you've eliminated the source of the enticement to go on to cocaine, heroin, and crack. How many drug dealers sell Burgundy? Vodka? Pina Coladas? If there's no profit, there's no point for the illicit drug dealers to sell it. Let the profit go to the various governments and watch their budgets change for the better.