We call ourselves a free country, yet it is illegal to use marijuana on a recreational basis.
Seriously? Think about this, marijuana funds 60 percent of illegal drug operations across the United States. This market dictated by violence and extortion is really an unregulated form of capitalism. Ever wonder what capitalism would be without regulation? Just look at what the war on drugs has done to America. Some $1.5 trillion spent and nothing gained on the home front when it comes to the usage of drugs.
Ever wonder why? It's simple, you can't legislate free will, and any time the government deems it necessary to do so, it costs the taxpayer unmeasured amounts. Why unmeasured? With so much money spent to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is likely we are borrowing money from the Chinese government to tell Bob he doesn't have the freedom to enjoy a plant at his own discretion.
Isn't it apparent that we have lost the war on drugs after arresting so many millions? According to Adam Liptak of The New York Times in 2008, "The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners."
On average, it costs our country about $40,000 per prisoner per year. It just doesn't seem to be the real reason behind the drug war, does it? It's almost like another dirty little government secret. It appears to be a racially motivated legislation. We all know minorities are filling these prisons, and we also know that the majority of these prisoners are criminally prosecuted and incarcerated based on nonviolent drug offenses.
Is it really worth $40,000 to keep one individual from getting high?
Meanwhile, this country is $16 trillion in debt. Do you want to cut grandma's health care? Or should we cut back on the cost of the drug war by legalizing marijuana? You can't have an honest conversation about reducing the nation's debt burden without considering it.
America is known for its agricultural resources which it shares with people across the globe. So why should we be ashamed of producing a useful product that people might enjoy too? Everyone knows that hemp, a non-psycho-tropic form of marijuana, can be used to make lots of products. In fact, hemp was used to make rope for years, right here in Kentucky.
Instead of wasting money subsidizing farmers to not grow in this country, let the farmers earn an honest living, so they can once again put their children through college. Why is it in America we continue to hold back an industry because a certain uneducated part of the country doesn't understand it or doesn't believe in a person's right to get high? News flash: Folks are still getting high, legal or not, like it or not.
Our government thinks it has the right to dictate a way of living to the American people. I say enough is enough. It is high time we start dictating to them what it is we will spend our money on. Let's be serious in 2012 America, and it all starts with legalizing marijuana. It's just common sense.
Joseph Fraser, a Navy veteran, is a student at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.