Michigan is in a state of crisis, and there seems to be nothing anyone can do to stop it. The budget coming from Lansing has been focused on trying to cut anything that could save the state money. Education has been massively decrease in the past several months, and students from kindergarten through college are feeling the hurt. Here at NMU, students are watching their money disappear right before their eyes. The Promise Scholarship was recently cut from the budget, leaving many students at a loss.
When money for education is being taken away there is something wrong. Instead of making such cuts, the Michigan State government needs to come up with other options for tax revenue, and one option that needs greater focus is the legalization of marijuana in the state of Michigan.
The legalization of marijuana has the possibility of adding billions of dollars to the state budget, and could allow the lawmakers in Lansing to once again fund education. The re-funding of education would put money back in students pockets and make perennial tough times easier for college students here at NMU.
The California chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (CA NORML), a group that is dedicated to reforming the marijuana laws in California, has done studies on the economic value of legalizing marijuana.
It is estimated that a legal market for marijuana would give the state of California between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion a year in new tax revenues. According to a study done by CA NORML, a simple "$1 per joint" tax would give the state about $1 billion a year, and would save over $150 million in enforcement costs for arrests, prosecutions and prison. In California alone, the cost of marijuana enforcement is $156 billion.
The cost of the War on Drugs in America is something that also must be seriously considered. FBI statistics indicate that a person in the U.S. is arrested for marijuana every 45 seconds. These numbers far exceed those for violent crimes which include murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robberyand aggravated assault, which is where law enforcement should primarily be focused as indicated in the study done by the FBI.
We have people being murdered in this country, but we need not worry because the pot smokers are being put into prison, in numbers nearing the million, according to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report. The federal government spends almost $50 billion a year on the War on Drugs; couldn't that money be put to better use?
Since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the drug has been illegal in the United States and marijuana has been demonized into a horrible drug that does great harm. This is a piece of propaganda that is just not true.
According to a study done by DrugWarFacts.org deaths in the U.S. last year were 435,000 from tobacco, 365,000 from poor nutrition, 85,000 from alcohol, 32,000 from adverse reactions to prescription drugs, 17,000 from all illicit drug use, direct or indirect, 7,600 from aspirin and 0 from marijuana.
If we know that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco and is an available source of tax revenue and jobs in an economy plagued by deficits and job losses, why not let marijuana save our education and country?
Legalizing marijuana would come with regulations, just as with alcohol and cigarettes, and would provide the federal government with even more money to add to the budget. If tax regulations would add $1.5-2.5 billion to California's economy alone, imagine what it could do for Michigan's, or the entire U.S. economy.
The legalization would also lead to an increase in new jobs. The jobs created would in turn provide more legal wages, which would generate more income and business taxes for the government. The amount of money that can come from marijuana legalization is endless and has yet to be taken advantage of.
October 29, 2009
The North Wind Online