I am the kind of person that understands that the government spends my tax dollars on a lot of things that I do not agree with. It comes along with being a citizen in this country in that everyone has some percentage of their tax dollars spent on things they think are stupid. I also know that the government wastes a lot of tax dollars on pet projects for different states that have no business being funded with public money, i.e. the bridge to nowhere in Alaska that Senator Stevens wanted. But when I read an article stating that Americans are paying over $1 billion dollars to incarcerate pot smokers, it really bothered me because this is an incredible waste of tax dollars.
I do not smoke marijuana, and even while in college I think I only tried it a few times. It wasn’t for me then and it is not for me now. But lots of people do smoke marijuana, and obviously a lot of people end up in jail because of it. Right now, 33,655 state inmates and 10,785 federal inmates are in jail due to the marijuana laws, and we are paying to feed, clothe, and shelter them. This is outrageous, and here is why.
Drinking alcohol is a celebrated past time in this country. There are advertisements on the TV, radio, newspaper, and internet. We are told that in order to have a good time, we have to go out drinking with our friends. PARTY! It is sold on every street corner in all parts of the country, and is easily accessible to both young and old alike.
Smoking cigarettes is legal. Sure, it is not good for you, but it is a legal choice that some people make. The cigarette companies sponsor car racing and other sports, and smoking is deemed cool in movies and TV shows.
So why do people who use marijuana go to jail, and people who drink and smoke just have a good time? I do not want to turn this into a debate about which is worse for you or which has possibly health benefits. That is really up to an individual to decide for him or herself. But the fact that our government spends $1 billion dollars of our tax money putting people in jail for marijuana while allowing other drugs to be used in our society is insulting not only to my intelligence, but even more so to my wallet. And this $1 billion is only the beginning of the story, as hundreds of thousands are arrested each year just for violating marijuana laws, “costing taxpayers another $8 billion dollars annually in criminal justice costs”. Isn’t it time we take a real hard look at where our tax dollars go, and really put them towards projects that will benefit society? If they are going to take $9 billion dollars worth of tax dollars, imagine what they could do with that money instead of prosecuting marijuana users! Imagine if we got to keep that extra money for ourselves in our paychecks every week.
We all know the government likes to waste money. If it is not the bridge to nowhere as I mentioned above, it is the $400 toilets or the multi billion dollar defense contracts or another $9 billion in cash that was shipped to Iraq and has now disappeared. I guess my point is that something really needs to be done to prioritize what is done with the tax dollars that get taken out of our paychecks without any oversight from us. Spending $9 billion dollars to jail, prosecute, arrest, or counsel marijuana users is just insane, especially since other drugs are A-OK for use in this country.