Tax pot – Healthcare for all

January 16, 2009

For the millions of responsible citizens who already enjoy smoking a joint to relax, instead of the traditional few drinks, the article below will make perfect sense. For those who are clueless about the ‘War on Drugs’ and think marijuana is evil, it will be informative.

Basically, the USA spends billions of dollars to prevent the use of an herb, which is not dangerous, but highly useful in many ways. Billions in border patrol, billions in arrests, billions in court costs, billions in incarceration. Combined with the billions lost in revenue for taxing marijuana, this could ever reach a trillion dollars.

Wouldn’t this money be better utilised in providing health care for all citizens, encouraging alternate energy sources for communities, and making education more viable? Moreover, can the bankrupt USA even afford to police the world to prevent people from smoking pot?

It’s ridiculous…absurd in the extreme, a complete waste of money and life force which accomplishes nothing. People are going to continue to smoke marijuana the world over; as they will continue to drink. Why not tax it and do some good for people with the revenue? Did the USA learn nothing from Prohibition?

Think of all the jobs that can be created, the farmers who have been pushed to the brink by agribusiness (hemp is the most versatile plant on earth), the reduction in alcohol consumption (and its associated social costs), the hospitals that can be built, the opportunities for increased education for all children. And I believe, people are generally happier who smoke: alcohol tends to amplify aggressions. All this is given up to prevent adult citizens from smoking a spliff.

What’s wrong with this picture? What if legalising pot could pull the economy out of the ditch, or make a significant contribution? The self-interest argument appeals to many.

My only reservation is that the big corporations would be serving themselves the lion’s portion of the market pie before small farmers could establish themselves.

Obama’s Marijuana Prohibition Acid Test


The parallels between the 1933 coming of Franklin Roosevelt and the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama must include the issue of Prohibition: alcohol in 1933, and marijuana today. As FDR did back then, Obama must now help end an utterly failed, socially destructive, reactionary crusade.

Marijuana prohibition is a core cause of many of the nation’s economic problems. It now costs the U.S. tens of billions per year to track, arrest, try, defend and imprison marijuana consumers who pose little, if any, harm to society. The social toll soars even higher when we account for social violence, lost work, ruined careers and damaged families. In 2007, 775,137 people were arrested in the U.S. for mere possession of this ancient crop, according to the FBI’s uniform crime report.

Like the Prohibition on alcohol that plagued the nation from 1920 to 1933, marijuana prohibition (which essentially began in 1937) feeds organized crime and a socially useless prison-industrial complex that includes judges, lawyers, police, guards, prison contractors, and more.

A dozen states have now passed public referenda confirming medical uses for marijuana based on voluminous research dating back 5,000 years. Confirmed medicinal uses for marijuana include treatment for glaucoma, hypertension, arthritis, pain relief, nausea relief, reducing muscle spasticity from spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, and diminishing tremors in multiple sclerosis patients. Medical reports also prove smoked marijuana provides relief from migraine headaches, depression, seizures, and insomnia, according to NORML. In recent years its use has become critical to thousands of cancer and AIDS sufferers who need to it to maintain their appetite while undergoing chemotherapy.

The U.S. ban on marijuana extends to include hemp, one of the most widely used agricultural products in human history. Unlike many other industrial crops, hemp is powerful and prolific in a natural state, requiring no pesticides, herbicides, extraordinary fertilizing or inappropriate irrigation. Its core products include paper, cloth, sails, rope, cosmetics, fuel, supplements and food. Its seeds are a potentially significant source of bio-diesel fuel, and its leaves and stems an obvious choice for cellulosic ethanol, both critically important for a conversion to a Solartopian renewable energy supply.

Hemp was grown in large quantities by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and many more of the nation’s founders, most of whom would likely be dumbfounded to hear it is illegal (based on entries in Washington’s agricultural diaries, referring to the separation of male and female plants, it’s likely he and his cohorts also raised an earlier form of “medicinal” marijuana).

Hemp growing was mandatory in some circumstances in early America, and again during World War II, when virtually the entire state of Kansas was planted in it. The current ban on industrial hemp costs the U.S. billiions of dollars in lost production and revenue from a plant that can produce superior paper, clothing, fuel and other critical materials at a fraction the financial cost and environmental damage imposed by less worthy sources.

On January 16, 1919, fundamentalist crusaders help pass the 18th Amendment, making the sale of alcohol illegal. The ensuing Prohibition was by all accounts a ludicrous failure epitomized by gang violence and lethal “amateur” product that added to the death toll. Its only real winner was organized crime and the prison-industrial complex.

In 1933, FDR helped pass the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition, which ended a costly era of gratuitous social repression and gave the American economy—and psyche—a tangible boost.

Marijuana prohibition was escalated with Richard Nixon’s 1970 declaration of the War on Drugs. There was a brief reprieve when Steve Ford, the son of President Gerald Ford appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone barefoot and claiming that the best place to smoke pot was in the White House. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s last year in office, 338,664 were arrested for marijuana possession.

Ronald Reagan renewed the War on Drugs and declared his “Zero Tolerance” policy, despite his daughter Patti Davis’ claim the Gipper smoked weed with a major donor. Following Reagan, President George Herbert Walker Bush recorded a low of 260,390 marijuana possession arrests, but the numbers climbed again under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both of whom are reported to have smoked it themselves (though Clinton claims not to have inhaled).

On a percentage basis, at least as many American high school students smoke pot than students in Holland, where it is legal. In the midst of the drug war, U.S. students report virtually unlimited access to a wide range of allegedly controlled substances, including pot. Because so many Americans use it, and it is so readily available, the war on marijuana can only be seen as a virtually universal assault on the basic liberties of our citizenry.

In a 2005 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey, more than 97 million Americans admitted to having tried marijuana at least once. President-elect Obama makes it clear in his book Dreams From My Father that he has smoked—and inhaled—marijuana (he is also apparently addicted to a far more dangerous drug, tobacco). His administration should tax marijuana rather than trying to repress it. Like alcohol and tobacco, a minimum age for legal access should be set at 21.

As a whole, the violent, repressive War on Drugs has been forty years of legal, cultural and economic catastrophe. Like FDR, Obama must end our modern-day Prohibition, and with it the health-killing crusade against this ancient, powerful medicinal herb.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored four books on election protection, available at http://freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES. Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA! is at http://harveywasserman.com.

This article was first published by http://freepress.org.

Medical Marijuana Blog



  1. I agree with your conclusions,but not your premise: pot is far from harmless—beieve me, I know, both from personal experience and via what I’ve read from credible sources.

    We must, however, defend our right to do things which are both good and bad for us—I include drugs, religion, sex, and rock-climbing among them—because it is in fact one’s right to perform that cost-benefit analysis for oneself when no-one else is forced to be around us.

    To insist that marijuana is completely benign is to play into the hands of those who will prove otherwise—well or badly—as well as those of those who think we anti-prohibitionists to be silly hippies not worthy of serious attention.

    • Yes you have a point. Marajuana is not completely benign. But nothing is; you can’t even have a slice of bread with real butter anymore without it being ‘bad’ for you. Think of the dangers of alcohol which is lega and stack those against hemp….very different in their ‘benign’ content.

      It is your second point I completely agree with if I am reading you correctly: we have the right to chose our own vices in our own homes. The paternalism of government is way way out of control. We have barely any rights left from the Bill of Rights.

      However, my opinion is based on the practical: why waste money prohibiting something which does certainly no more harm than alcohol or cigarettes, when people need medical care, housing, job programs etc. I think it’s imprudent and wasteful use of funds.

      The dark side of the War on Drugs, which we know has not worked since Reagan’s time, is that the government uses this policy to police other countries who seek to fulfill the market demand in the USA.
      Mexico a case in point.

      All and all, the info out there seems very much like propaganda to me.

      Thanks for your inciteful comment.

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