Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession Could Save Billion Annually, Data Shows

marijuanaReasonable minds may differ on the necessity of the drug war and the tactics used to fight it, but one thing is certain: it costs a heck of a lot of money. Some states are taking steps to spend their money wisely. One of these steps is de-criminalizing the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Massachusetts has already done so and Connecticut is considering following suit. Efforts to do so have failed in California, but the movement to ease the burden on our courts by removing small-time cases from the docket is gaining momentum.

How much could be saved? According to statistics compiled by LegalMatch, in 2007 44% of LegalMatch clients arrested for drug crimes were marijuana related. Federal statistics for the same period show that that 47% of all drug arrests were for marijuana possession. Nationally this works out to 775,137 marijuana possession arrests, or almost 10 times the amount of arrests for drug trafficking and sales.

Reducing the burden on our courts by shifting almost 3 quarters of a million defendants off the criminal docket could save a lot of money. Court costs for even the smallest of cases can still add up. A study of average court costs in Allen County, Indiana in 2001 show an average bill of $1,146 for processing drug offense charges. Factoring in inflation, this adds up to $1,345 in 2007 dollars. If we use this estimate for a national average (which seems on the low side as it is), that’s still over $1 billion spent simply processing marijuana possession offenses. That is not even taking into account the costs of other programs such as probation and incarceration.

Massachusetts estimates that it saves over $30 million a year by decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. How much can the nation as a whole save by following suit? Probably a few billion dollars. Although that may seem like chump change in the face of an $800 billion stimulus packages, that is still a lot of money that would be better spent elsewhere. In these tough economic times, we need to look everywhere we can to shed the extra fat. So let’s support a more rational criminal justice policy. It might just save you some money.

1 Response to “Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession Could Save Billion Annually, Data Shows”

  1. 1 Jeff

    In the future, say 50 years from now, the world will look back at this time in history and they will say, “What were they thinking? Prohibiting Cannabis/Marijuana.” Realizing that their economy has improved 100 fold by the full legalization of marijuana for medical and redreational purposes and Hemp for a BOOM Agriculture product. Virtually everything on the cannabis plant is useful for a myriad of things from biodegradable plastic’s to fuel to food to medicine. Cannabis seeds contain all essential proteins plus a few amino acids found nowhere else in nature, to sustain human life i.e. eating just uncooked cannabis seeds would keep you alive in times of famine, God forbid. Cannabis was poised to take over the paper industry in the early 1900’s which is why William Randolf Hearst (This was a SICK man) locked in with Harry Anslinger, America’s first Drug Czar, to create Reefer Madness, not the movie, the propaganda/lies still spouted today by politicians while flying in direct conflict with scientific and medical facts. When will we wake up America? Marijuana is the healthiest plant on the planet for mankind. Even the negative aspects of using medical marijuana are nothing but positive. Example; The use of Marijuana can sonetimes affect your short term memory. This is a good thing. Do you really want to remember every face you saw on the way to work this morning? Do you really want to remember seeing your friends heads getting blown off in a war? Of course not. Point is marijuana is 100% therapeutic and 100% safe. If not why does every study commisioned by our federal government on marijuana say, “Marijuana does not negatively effect the human condition and should not be illegal!” With the discovery of the Human Endocanabinoid system and the natural chemical made by our bodies called “Anandomide” (which is the bodies own THC, just as endorphines are the bodies opiates. But cannabis is not addictive as opiates are. Marijuana is extremely therapeutic for many diseases and their symptoms with a much greater safety margin than any existing drug today. In fact tecnically marijuana is not a drug it is an herb with temporary psychoactive effects. Everything about marijuana use is temporary i.e. all effects wear off leaving no damage whatsoever to the human body. So again I ask, “When will you wake up America and legalize marijuana removing it from Federal and States Schedule I catagory. Marijuana needs reglating like potato’s, which are fatal if enough raw potato is consumed, need regulating. Marijuana/Hemp is a useful comodity, not an evil weed. WAKE UP AMERICA!!! LEGALIZE MARIJUANA NOW!!!

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