“It’s easier for children to get marijuana than alcohol. Why? Because alcohol is controlled by the government, and marijuana is Web Grower controlled by illegal drug dealers who don’t ask for ID. We’ve got this huge, colossal bureaucracy to fight the War on Drugs – to keep drugs away from our children – and it is absolutely having the opposite effect.” said Jim Gray, retired Republican-appointed judge from conservative Orange County (Dickinson).
Since Richard Nixon started the “War on Drugs” in 1971, there’s been much policy debate on how to handle drug punishment, treatment, prevention, decriminlization (which allows just for fines to be imposed), and legalization. While harsher penalties were invoked over the years, so was government spending of incarceration of these individuals, with no decrease in drug usage through the population (regarding every illicit drug) over the past forty years.
The United States is now best known as the world’s largest market for drugs despite their prohibition-based drug control policy. Much of the cocaine and heroin that flows through the United States comes from foreign sources, but amphetamines along with LSD and Ecstasy is produced in the United States, and while some seem to think the nations “marijuana problem” is due to the cartels in Mexico, at least a third of it that’s consumed is grown within the United States. With crackdowns on foreign suppliers through the years, U.S. production soared. Specifically speaking of marijuana, California and Hawaii took advantage of the foreign drug policy and produced many farms. Once their operations were forced to be taken down, growers just began moving production to scattered areas and indoors.
As a cash crop, marijuana has a greater value to farmers than tobacco, what, or cotton, in many states being the largest revenue-producing crop. Only corn, soybeans, and hay rank as more profitable cash crops as marijuana growers get an estimated $15.1 billion with the wholesale market. Moving from the wholesale level, drug dealing is one of the very few kinds of well-paid employment available with the young in poor urban areas. Whats less well reported is that most of the nations drug production is among the nations poorest areas. Through parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, marijuana has “become a substantial component of the local economy, surpassing even tobacco as the largest cast crop” says U.S. officials because “in this tri-state area financial development is limited, poverty is rampant, and jobs are few.” This can be shown through the unemployment rate through the area, as rates are usually 2-6% percent higher than either California or the United States (Profile).
If drug reform is indeed needed, how far do we need to go with it? While illicit drugs have been tossed into debate in the past (such as MDMA) the marijuana issue has been the one drug that the nation has been (recently) pushing for policy reform. The debate no longer revolves around the harms of marijuana, as it has in the past. Stephen Kisely cites that cannabis produces “acute effects include accidents with motor vehicles or machinery, and adverse reactions. In the longer-term, cannabis has been associated with cognitive impairment and psychosis, although not consistently, and direct causality is more difficult to establish than for acute effects.” The Runciman Report, which is commissioned by the Police Federation in the United Kingdom, concluded that both alcohol and tobacco were more harmful than cannabis, yet there has been no push for controlling those uses.