FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Weed to the Rescue in the Budget Crisis?

by LINN WASHINGTON JR.

Imagine U.S. House Speaker John Boehner blasted on weed.

Given Boehner’s teary-eyed trait, he’d probably cry uncontrollably when high on pot alternating his crocodile tears with hysterical laughter…perhaps even laughing at some of that dumb shi-tuff he and his GOP colleagues constantly do on Capitol Hill.

With Boehner and his GOP congressional confederates battling the Obama White House over federal budget expenditures and debt ceiling limits, there could be value in putting pot legalization into this partisan wrangling if Boehner is honest when claiming these fiscal imbroglios are really about federal government expenditures exceeding revenue.

Putting an end to the federal government’s failed pot prohibition policies, now nearing the eighty-year mark, would provide tremendous sources of new revenue. The federal government could save the estimated $10-billion-plus now spent annually on just law enforcement. The federal government could reap additional billions from taxing what experts estimate is the now untaxed $113-billion per year illegal marijuana industry. Plus ending prohibition would save millions now spent on the anti-pot propaganda oozing from government agencies.

A prime example of the money wasted by the federal government on enforcement efforts is evident in the September 2012 invasion of a predominately Latino community in Santa Rosa, CA by dozens of combat-clad/assault-rifle-armed agents from Homeland Security, the FBI and the DEA. That massive raid, also involving state and local cops, did net a stack of just pot plants but some of those plants were lawfully grown under provisions of California’s state approved medical marijuana law. That invasion, however, did accomplish a mission to terrorize that community including the spectacle of handcuffing mothers in front of their young children.

Yes, the Latino community site of the raid evidenced the racially discriminatory targeting embedded in America’s War on Weed. Other evidence of racism in pot prohibition is evident in blacks being arrested for pot possession in the county encompassing Santa Rosa in excess of twice their percentage of that county’s population according to a 2010 study conducted for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Drug warriors and others quickly dismiss charges of racially discriminatory practices but is it just mere coincidence that of the 3,709 pot possession arrests in Philadelphia, Pa during 2012, only 629 whites were arrested compared to 3,052 blacks? More than 600 whites smoke pot daily on just college campuses in Philadelphia.

This year, as thousands of federal government employees endured having their paychecks slashed by the bi-partisan boondoggle called Sequestration, the National Park Service in Philadelphia wasted money paying park rangers and other police overtime specifically to arrest pot legalization activists who smoke marijuana during monthly protests near the iconic Liberty Bell. And adding insult to the insanity of wasting money arresting peaceful pro-pot protestors, federal prosecutors want to send two of those arrested activists to prison for six months each.

This vengeful antic by federal prosecutors sending ‘a message’ to prohibition opponents will snatch over $28,000 in just jail-cell costs from federal coffers that Boehner-&-Company claim is too empty to fund food stamps for hungry children.

Ending pot prohibition would end the need for expensive anti-pot propaganda from the federal government that still touts discredited rationales initially fashioned by federal anti-drug warriors in the late 1930s.

President Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy still contends that use of cannabis causes “cognitive impairment” – propaganda belied by the personal/professional accomplishments of Obama himself. The president admits that he smoked marijuana as a teen and that cannabis consumption didn’t impede him from graduating from two Ivy League institutions including Harvard’s Law School. If marijuana is as mentally destructive as ONDCP contends Obama could have never made it to the Oval Office.

Officials across America have historically exaggerated the so-called ‘pot problem’ ignoring solid evidence that pot is benign and is not a ‘gateway’ drug to harder drug addition. Do some people get whacked-out on weed? Yes! But some people get whacked-out on religion. And some get whacked-out on politics. Remember the craziness radiating from Capitol Hill is not caused by conservatives smoking Whacky-Weed.

A few years after the federal government’s formal prohibition of pot in 1937 the mayor of New York City ordered an extensive examination into the alleged pot problem in his city. That multi-layered examination spanning over four years reached conclusions that contradicted alarmist claims of federal pot police. The fed’s top cannabis cop, Harry “Reefer Madness” Anslinger, indignantly dismissed that NYC study as “unscientific” despite it having been conducted by the New York Academy of Medicine, hardly a cabal of cannabis consumers.

With federal, state and local governments in desperate need of new revenues legalizing pot would clearly offer a good source of currently untapped income. The legalization of medical marijuana in 19 states so far has produced tax revenues for governments while stimulating employment and other economic benefits.

Santa Rosa, the site of that September 2012 pot raid, is the seat of Sonoma County, a jurisdiction providing examples that stupid spending priorities are not exclusive to Capitol Hill.

Many Sonoma County residents wanted to tap that jurisdiction’s contingency fund to restore full-day operating hours in its century old public library system. County officials had cut library hours to shave expenditures, a policy stance that penalizes children heavily. Yet, the same Sonoma County Board of Supervisors that defiantly refused to use contingency funds to restore library hours quickly approved using $240,000 from that fund to retain a marijuana eradication officer when federal funding for that anti-pot position was eliminated.

Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not eliminate the federal budget deficit but it will end the absurdity of ruining lives with arrests for simple pot possession like the 658,231 persons nabbed nationwide in 2012 according to recently released FBI statistics.

LINN WASHINGTON, JR. is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, DAVE LINDORFF, LORI SPENCER and CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail