Why The Evils of Reefer Will Destroy the US Economy

Nicotiana of the Solanaceae family (nightshade family), otherwise known by a more common term, tobacco. Prior to the arrival of European colonists, previous knowledge of this crop was practically nonexistent. Yet in the early 17th century, this plant became not only one of the most successful cash crops, but also charted the survival of what became the United States of America. Through various bouts of outlawing and communal conflicts over the moral implications, this crop theoretically changed human culture. Only two other sources of agriculture capped the peak potential of tobacco, ironically both illegal: coca and cannabis. Now much consideration has been taken into debate over the next step in recreational freedom: the legalization of cannabis and its potential benefits to modern society. A society facing an opioid crisis, a financially imploding war on drugs, and a government largely in debt begs a calling to question many of the traditional limitations and their continuing precedent as legitimate benefits. Cannabis, indeed, would produce the beneficial substance this country needs; in terms of financial gains, moral reconsideration in standings, and the medical benefits of alternative & more affordable health care options. It might be fair to say weed is pretty fucking awesome, and here are some reasons why:

Precedent was shaken when in January 2014, with the implementation of the earlier passing Amendment 64 of the Colorado State Constitution, Colorado became the first state in the US to legalize cannabis. Raising the bar of expectations for other states, such as Oregon, Washington, California, and Maine, legalized recreational cannabis in Colorado and over the previous years have brought steady incomes. In 2015, Colorado gathered more than $135 million in expenses and charge on therapeutic and recreational cannabis from state-approved dispensaries. Estimated sales in 2015 in Colorado’s recreational marijuana market reached an estimated $996 million. Cannabis sales in North America grew 30 percent, to $6.7 billion, in 2016, and is anticipated to increase upwards of $20 billion dollars by 2021 with increasing numbers of states allowing cannabis for either medicinal and/or recreational service, via statistics through Arcview Market Research. California, which is significantly bigger in size and populace than its predecessor, could surpass $15 billion in revenue as indicated by an April 2016 review by ICF International. (Karberg, Mumula)

State congress committees have annually assessed sales incomes from dispensaries in the ballpark of $50 million. As state and national offices have constantly been revising budget plans for the sake of required deficit cuts, diminished tax revenue in the face of increasing costs for maintaining public health and universal healthcare, this drug could be the answer to finding an affordable and safer alternative cash crop to lift wage to reserve ventures, for example, redevelopment of urban infrastructure and new schools. Currently, few lawmakers and credible pundits trust that the lifting of restrictions over cannabis could generate the consistent income in the face of upfront costs for implementation. Though initial costs would be worth noting, one must take into the consideration the next aspect of financial benefits to legalization, refocusing the scope of the war on drugs. (Gettman 15-16, 2017)

Below, I have a graph illustrating the current breakdown to speculate. An estimated 28.7% of gross product, the overall health of a national economy, is counted as tax revenue, which compared to the overall amount of the national budget would amount to $113 billion. According to the study conducted by ONDCP (2016), national legalization would amount to around $10 billion in additional tax revenue, as well as the tax on dispensary sales from the estimated 25 million Americans identifying as users. Now take the estimated 5.56% of arrests that are for cannabis related crimes and multiply by the national budget to reach around 10 billion. In Colorado, already reaching a surplus in previous years, should continue to see gains in tax revenue, which can be used productively for the community. (Gettman 15-16)

The following graph illustrates the influence of drug control spending in fiscal terms:

(Office of National Drug Control Policy, “National Drug Control Budget: FY 2017 Funding Highlights”, Table 1, p. 16,)

In the section of Estimated Cost Savings for Treatment vs. Law Enforcement, researchers weight out the scales of costs and benefits for cannabis control enforcement versus possible estimates of treatment options in public healthcare systems, though these findings are somewhat outdated to both today’s fiscal situation and the Affordable Care Act.

“This study found that the savings of supply-control programs are smaller than the control costs (an estimated 15 cents on the dollar for source-country control, 32 cents on the dollar for interdiction, and 52 cents on the dollar for domestic enforcement). In contrast, the savings of treatment programs are larger than the control costs; we estimate that the costs of crime and lost productivity are reduced by $7.46 for every dollar spend on treatment.” (Rydell, C.P. & Everingham, S.S., p.xvi, 1994.)

Federal Drug Control Spending by Function
(Budget Authority in Millions of US Dollars. Source: ONDCP, February 2015)
Function FY 2013 Final FY 2014 Final FY 2015 Final FY 2016 Enacted FY 2017 Request
Treatment 7,888.6 9,481.8 12,543.1 13,248.6 14,281.6
Percent 31.3% 36.9% 43.4% 43.4% 46.0%
Prevention 1,274.9 1,316.9 1,341.5 1,496.2 1,544.7
Percent 5.1% 5.1% 4.6% 4.9% 5.0%
Domestic Law Enforcement 8,850.0 9,348.8 9,394.5 9,699.1 9,525.5
Percent 35.1% 36.3% 32.5% 31.7% 30.7%
Interdiction 3,940.6 3,948.5 3,960.9 4,479.9 4,138.5
Percent 15.6% 15.3% 13.7% 14.7% 13.3%
International 1,848.5 1,637.1 1,643.0 1,637.0 1,581.1
Percent 7.3% 6.4% 5.7% 5.4% 5.1%
Total $23,800.4 $25,724.9 $28,882.9 $30,560.8 $31.071.4

[“National Drug Control Budget: FY 2017 Funding Highlights” (Washington, DC: Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy), February 2016, Table 1, p. 16, and Table 3, p. 19.]

The table above, as conducted by Office of National Drug Control Policy, shows the percentage margins to compare costs of drug control over the years, with higher net gains going towards treatment, though more funding has continually been requested by law enforcement on average, excerpted from “The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition,”

“This report estimates that legalizing drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government. Approximately $8.7 billion of the savings would result from legalization of marijuana and $32.6 billion from legalization of other drugs.
“The report also estimates that drug legalization would yield tax revenue of $46.7 billion annually, assuming legal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco. Approximately $8.7 billion of this revenue would result from legalization of marijuana and $38.0 billion from legalization of other drugs.” (Miron, Jeffey A., and Waldock, Katherine, 2017)

Giving legitimate alternative options would cause traditional medication to fall, sending a hit to the corrupt lobbying pundits that embody pharmaceutical giants. Also, lessening in violation sanctions would be opted out of possibility with ease of going through government approved hospitals. Additionally, the diminishment in the cost will prompt close to nothing, assuming any, development in medication fixation and abuse, because of the inelasticity of interest towards more costly methods. Some even express that in an entirely corporation controlled market, prescription prices and demand may fall, by expelling the faulty advertising exercises of the medication industry.

Legalization advocates guarantee that the move will give law enforcement more time and funding to focus on serious crimes, such as murder or serious drug possession. This would also clear out many redundant and often thrown out cases in court, which enables judges and prosecutors to concentrate more on serious cases in sooner time, while detainment facilities are returned to international standards, instead of being the country with the most incarcerated persons in the world. As of now, you can’t call the police or any legal counselor to dispute your case, and court dates are backed up, each day many citizens filing up for mediocre charges. Rather, you should settle the debate yourself, which regularly prompts a cycle of retaliatory viciousness. Be that as it may, with legitimization, appropriate intentions can only be realized through scientific backing.

It is very unexpected, however maybe the most noticeably impactful adversaries of legalization, besides big pharma, are drug dealers and gangs. But this can be both contained and virtually eradicated via legalization. There will be open rivalry between competing dispensaries and legitimate growers producing high quality cannabis at lower costs, lower than gangs, which may cause many dealers and members to look towards working with the government to legitimize an operation they are already familiar with.

A review published in 2014, Medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. by Dr. Marcus A. Bachhuber of Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, found that from years 1999 to 2010, elaborates on the nations rise in opioid overdose rates in the US. Yet, in states where therapeutic cannabis is available through recreational or prescription routes, rates of overdoses connected to opioids declined in the years after usage, contrasted with states where pot was/ is still not legitimately accessible. This impact was shown stronger than those connected to statewide administrative activities, for example, obligatory opioid physician endorsed medicine registries and other well-meaning endeavors, alluding to malpractice on part of over-prescription and non-focus of proper treatment and exposing what has become a symptom-focused medical culture, especially in fields of mentally ill and disordered. (Bachhuber, Barn, Saloner, Cunningham, 2014)

“States with medical cannabis laws compared with states without such laws in the United States, 1999–2010.” (

When one purchases cannabis off the street, it is highly unlikely he would precisely recognize what unsafe substances are cut into it. Meanwhile, current legalization endeavors make a structure for a safeguarded framework, which will work to dispose of the potentials risks from cannabis consumption, researching alternative way to initiate the THC in other means. Besides the McCarthy propaganda that sparked a reefer demonization has been continually reversed in newer findings of cannabis’ benefits in helping patients deal with a variety of severe ailments, including Crohn’s Disease, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In many states, including Massachusetts, California and New Jersey, it is legitimate to utilize restorative cannabis under specific rules, otherwise known as only for medicinal purposes. This implies more individuals will be allowed to utilize cannabis for its trusted medical advantages that have substantial backing by the medical community. As previously stated, cannabis realizes various health advantages. Be that as it may, the most prominent of them all is the treatment of patients who are experiencing chemotherapy. This is the motivation behind why certain states, for example, California, have executed activities for the authorization of the medication for restorative purposes. According to the National Cancer Institute’s online website on present known facts on cannabis, inhalation of weed smoke may likely relieve negative side effects of chemotherapy, including medication-induced vomiting, loss of appetite, and pain relief. (www.cancer.gov,)

Despite the financial pros of legalizing cannabis and apparent evidence sweltering across laboratories and universities across the nation, there are side effects to this implementation. One factor most apparent is the correlation between driving while being under the influence of cannabis, and its fatal surge. The main problem with cannabis is the increasing usage in link with driving motor vehicles, which according to statistics published by Dr. Andrew Sewell, Dr. James Polling, and Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu out of Connecticut Healthcare and Yale University School of Medicine, has become an increasing problem. (2009)

The prevalence of cannabis use and the increasing accident tole associated with motor vehicle crashes has led to a plethora of research on the link with many accidents involving drivers who test positive for cannabis. Cannabis acutely impairs several technical moves in driving, but the effects of cannabis vary more between individuals than they do with other substances such as alcohol because of factors depending on the individual differences. (Polling, Sewell, Sofuoglu, 2009)

Whereas with alcohol produces an opposite pattern of impairment, cannabis affects, according to researchers, each person differently on areas with low efficacy needed as comparison to areas like an urban downtown in a city, where while the smoker may be more knowledgeable of their situation, they are impaired nevertheless. That said, marijuana smokers tend to compensate effectively while driving by utilizing a variety of behavioral strategies. Combining marijuana with alcohol eliminates the ability to use such strategies effectively, however, and results in impairment even at doses which would be insignificant were they of either drug alone.

Further studies have been inconclusive regarding whether cannabis use causes an increased risk of accidents or traffic violations; in contrast, alcohol use has a unanimous agreeance with more drinking leading to increased risk of accident. Furthermore, the risk from driving under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis is greater than the risk of driving under the influence of either alone, so neither are obviously acceptable prescriptions in the event one is intending to use a motorized vehicle, showing that this more a personal choice than direct causation or even strong correlation to regressive driving habits.

Through many means, the legalization of cannabis brings to the table numerous fiscal and medical benefits that would easily be enough in a different scenario. Cannabis, regrettably been has somewhat shifted into a transcript of taboo, in even in the face of overwhelming irrefutable evidence from professional economic and medical communities that there is much benefit to be taken advantage of. Given the sweeping progression towards leniency, it is only a matter of time until the national government may look past the lobbyism of both major pharmaceutical companies and cigarette industries alike, so let us have our next cash crop to take our nation to a point of fiscal harmony.

John Donegan

 

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