Marijuana: It’s Time to Re-think It!
Sometime in the early part of the last century the State of Wisconsin made the possession of marijuana unlawful. This followed a move by the US Government which eventually made marijuana a Schedule 1 Narcotic. Schedule 1 narcotics are those which have no recognized medical use. There has been much research which demonstrates that there are long list of legitimate uses for marijuana in the treatment of health and disease. A good example of this is Dronabinol which is an extract of the marijuana plant. Other examples are found simply by going to Pubmed.com and reviewing the voluminous research that is available to be read there. As is evidenced by the fact that there is now extracts from the plant being used in every day medicine along with the fact that marijuana now has numerous other uses demonstrates the fallacy under which marijuana became a Schedule 1 narcotic.
Reviewing the literature from the time of the prohibition of marijuana reveals reasoning behind this prohibition range from racist to outright lies and mischaracterizations as shown in the movie Reefer Madness, which is regarded as propaganda. Divisions of the U.S. Government have made statements about marijuana which have no basis in fact. The reasons for these actions remain a mystery to scholars and numerous other experts. As we now know, there are official medical uses for marijuana and its extracts. There is little supporting evidence which overstates the dangers of this plant. There have been outright falsehoods placed in the media about this plant and it leads us to ask the question “why does this plant remain unlawful to possess in the State of Wisconsin?”
It also seems that the laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana are in opposition to the will of the people of both the United States as well as the State of Wisconsin. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found 17.4 million Americans were using marijuana in 2010. Other research indicates that a significant number of Americans have reported to researchers that they have tried the plant. While not necessarily legal in Mexico, a huge portion of the population uses it there. Twelve states allow use of “medical marijuance” which was accomplished after vast research. Two states allow use for both medical and recreational purposes.The current prohibition of marijuana is financially damaging to both the economy of the State of Wisconsin as well as the United States. Currently the majority of marijuana consumed in the United States is grown outside of the United States. By virtue of the fact that marijuana is unlawful to grow in the United States this prohibition forces the trade deficit to increase. In other words marijuana prohibition is forcing US dollars to leave the country and forcing huge exxpenditures for unnecessary law enforcement. As you are aware the State is having problems meeting its budget. While there have been some efforts to obtain a balanced budget there are still huge agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources which for reasons that escape logic are taking funds needed to properly fund the rest of the state, and instead purchasing land that is not needed by the State, preventing funds from being generated by the property taxes of these lands.
Associated with the prohibition of marijuana is the cost of enforcing the prohibition. The late Milton Friedman, a noted and well respected economist, estimated that the annual cost associated with prohibition of marijuana was 7.7 billion dollars annually. Roughly 2% of that is the cost to the State of Wisconsin associated with the prohibition of marijuana or roughly 106 million dollars.
The same study related the following “Revenue from taxation of marijuana sales would range from $2.4 billion per year if marijuana were taxed like ordinary consumer goods to $6.2 billion if it were taxed like alcohol or tobacco.” Again assuming 2% of this for the State of Wisconsin would yield 48 million dollars to the State of Wisconsin. It must be pointed out that every day in the State of Wisconsin there are numerous cash sales of marijuana which the State is not currently receiving any portion of the sales tax which it is properly entitled to. When looked at in its totality the prohibition of marijuana did not come as a result due to a demand from the populace, was based on nonfactual information and hysteria, did not account for the fact that it has medical uses, is used by thousands of Wisconsinites recreationally irrespective of the prohibition, and is extremely expensive to enforce the prohibition and would generate savings and revenue if legalized. At this time, some legislators are considering legalization.
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