Weed, Alcohol And Tobacco: The American Double Standard
2014 has been a huge year for the United States, as it marks the official “beginning of the end” for cannabis prohibition.
Many in the country are still against the recreational legalization of marijuana, yet cling fervently to the belief that alcohol and tobacco are somehow different.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that excessive alcohol use is linked to roughly 88,000 deaths in the United States per year, and they also estimate that tobacco is responsible for over 440,000 deaths annually in the country.
The CDC reports that between 1999 and 2007, marijuana was the underlying cause for 26 deaths in the United States, out of a population of over 2.5 billion.
So, the message here is that the government is perfectly fine with allowing products that can lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths per year. Yet, despite their dangers, when used correctly, these products help people relax, relieve stress and can offer an avenue for entertainment.
These substances are also a sure-fire way to raise money for the government. You see, no matter how bad the economy is, people will always need their escape from reality, which these products offer. In turn, there is a constant stream of tax revenue going right to Uncle Sam.
Is that so wrong? I don't see any problem with that. Though these products can kill people, they do provide benefits, and adults should be free to make adult choices. But the double standard of legally allowing alcohol and tobacco while prohibiting marijuana doesn't make much sense at all.
Jeffrey Miron, an economics lecturer at Harvard, released a 2010 study that estimated the United States could save close to $8.7 billion a year in law-enforcement costs if they no longer prosecuted for marijuana.
The marijuana law enforcement costs look pretty expensive for something that is so harmless.
According to USA Today, “in the most recent fiscal year, Colorado generated $9.1 million in retail sales tax from the sale of medical marijuana. This figure is bound to surge with the introduction of recreational sales and the additional 25% in excise and sales taxes thereon in 2014.
And it has already begun. In the first month of marijuana sales, Colorado has reported nearly $1 million in tax revenue. Experts estimate that Colorado will see nearly $100 million in tax revenues from marijuana this year alone. And that's just one state: Washington will likely see similar tax revenues from legalizing.
It's time to wake up and smell the bud. We should all have the right to smoke a joint in the privacy of our own property. Will some people abuse this right? Like all things in life, unfortunately, yes – some people will, but when you consider the fact that marijuana actually has medical benefits, unlike those other two vices, it begs a simple question:
What's the point of keeping it illegal?
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