States Should Decriminalize Marijuana

States Should Decriminalize Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on April 20, 2007 at 10:31:47 PT
By The Daily Campus Editorial Board
Source: Daily Campus
Connecticut -- In most states in America, using marijuana is a criminal offense punishable by prison time. It costs over $20,000 each year to keep one inmate incarcerated in a minimum-security prison. With 1.6 million people arrested on non-violent, drug-related offenses each year, that's a pretty big hit to the budgets at every level of government.
In fact, one person is arrested for a marijuana-related offense every 41 seconds in America. Eighty-nine percent of these arrests are for possession - not possession with intent to sell, growing, or sale of marijuana - and generally, more people are arrested in a given year for marijuana-related offenses than for all violent crimes combined.People argue that since marijuana users generally aren't violent, the government shouldn't be paying to lock them up. Unfortunately, a large segment of the population is determined to stop full legalization because they see marijuana use as an immoral and reprehensible act. One state has recently passed a very sensible and middle-of-the-road law. A new proposal that has just been passed in Maine has "decriminalized" marijuana, the first step toward a more responsible and less costly drug policy. Decriminalization means marijuana offenses can no longer be punished by jail terms. With approximately 65 percent of Maine's population admitting to using the drug at least once, this initiative will undoubtedly save the state at least several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Decriminalization also provides the state with a stream of income instead of draining resources. Because decriminalization does not legalize marijuana, it is still illegal to possess, abuse or sell marijuana. What decriminalization does, however, is use fines as a form of punishment instead of jail time. Fines are an easy, cost-effective way to enforce laws against minor offenses such as marijuana possession. According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, if the decriminalization policy were to be implemented across the country, the government would save between $10 billion and $14 billion each year. California has already had decriminalization laws in effect for several years, and that state saves, on average, $100 million each year. There's no reason for the federal government not to push for national decriminalization. It would save them money and allow federal agents to focus on crimes that are actually detrimental to society, such as assault, rape, murder, etc. While decriminalization results in lesser penalties for individual users, it also has the potential to appease hardliners who would rather see marijuana offenders prosecuted in court. Decriminalization only allows fines for small amounts of possession, whereas dealers and growers are still subjected to prosecution in court and the possibility of jail time. Marijuana decriminalization should be implemented nationally because it saves the government money and time, and is a great step forward to eventual legalization. Source: Daily Campus, The (UConn, CT Edu)Published: April 20, 2007Copyright: 2007 The Daily CampusContact: opinion dailycampus.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 20, 2007 at 11:21:38 PT
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on April 20, 2007 at 10:52:06 PT
Decriminalization is unacceptable. It puts the Government in business with organized crime, making money off of innocent citizens both on the purchase side and the penalty side.Decriminalization is a poorly thought out solution that props up organized crime!Legalize it. Allow people to grow it. You will take organized crime out of the game as profits will plummet, you will save billions of dollars currently wasted on prohibition. You will the reduce harm of criminal penalties on our citizens and help those who wish to use cannabis for medicinal purposes.Legalize it for adults! It's called freedom.
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