From: "Cher" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2008 3:55 PM
Subject: NON: Fw: What is the Going Price for a Joint?
>I don’t think this went through when I sent it:
> Weekend Edition
> January 19 / 20, 2008
> More Than You Might Think
> What’s the Going Price for a Joint?
> By PAUL ARMENTANO
> What’s the current price for a bag of weed? According to the latest
> figures from the FBI, the human cost is roughly 739,000 a year.
> That’s the number of American citizens arrested in 2006 for possessing
> small amounts of pot. (Another 91,000 were charged with marijuana-related
> felonies.) The figure is the highest annual total ever recorded, and is
> nearly double the number of citizens busted for pot fifteen years ago.
> Those arrested face a multitude of consequences, primarily determined by
> where they live. For example, most Californians charged with violating the
> state’s pot possession laws face little more than a small fine. By
> contrast, getting busted with a pinch of weed in Ohio will cost you your
> driver’s license for at least six months. Move to Texas–well, now you’re
> looking at a criminal record and up to 180 days in jail. Or if you happen
> to be a first-time offender, possibly a stint in court-mandated ‘drug
> rehab’ (one recent study reported that nearly 70 percent of all adults
> referred to Texas drug treatment programs for weed were referred by the
> courts), probation, and a hefty legal bill. And don’t even think about
> getting busted in Oklahoma, where a first time conviction for minor pot
> possession can net you up to one year in jail, or up to ten years if
> you’re found guilty of a second offense. Thinking of growing your own?
> That’ll cost you a $20,000 fine, and–oh yeah–anywhere f!
> rom two years to life in prison.
> Yes, you read that right–life in prison.
> Of course, not everyone busted for weed receives jail time. But that
> doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer significant hardships stemming from
> their arrest–including (but not limited to): probation and mandatory drug
> testing, loss of employment, loss of child custody, removal from
> subsidized housing, asset forfeiture, loss of student aid, loss of voting
> privileges, and the loss of certain federal welfare benefits such as food
> And yes, some offenders do serve prison time. In fact, according to a 2006
> Bureau of Justice Statistics report, 12.7 percent of state inmates and
> 12.4 percent of federal inmates incarcerated for drug violations are
> incarcerated for marijuana offenses. In human terms, this means that there
> are now about 33,655 state inmates and 10,785 federal inmates behind bars
> for violating marijuana laws. (The report failed to include estimates on
> the percentage of inmates incarcerated in county jails for pot-related
> In fiscal terms, this means that taxpayers are spending more than $1
> billion annually to imprison pot offenders.
> Yet this billion dollar price tag only estimates the financial costs on
> the ‘back end’ of a marijuana arrest. The criminal justice costs to
> taxpayers–such as the man-hours it takes a police officer to arrest and
> process the average pot offender–on the ‘front end’ is far greater, with
> some economists estimating the financial burden to be in upwards of $7
> billion a year. Naturally, as the annual number of pot arrests continues
> to increase (according to the latest FBI data, marijuana arrests now
> constitute 44 percent of all illicit drug arrests), these costs are only
> going to grow larger.
> There are alternatives, of course–options that won’t leave this sort of
> human and fiscal carnage in its wake, and that won’t leave entire
> generations believing that the police are an instrument of their
> oppression rather than their protection.
> ‘Decriminalization,’ as first recommended to Congress in 1972 by President
> Nixon’s National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, called for the
> removal of all criminal and civil penalties for the possession, use, and
> non-profit distribution of cannabis. Such a policy, if adequately
> implemented, would eliminate the bulk of the human and fiscal costs
> currently associated with enforcing pot prohibition.
> A second option, ‘regulation,’ would also significantly slash many of
> society’s prohibition-associated fiscal and human costs. Legalizing the
> commercial sale and use of cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, with
> state-mandated age controls and pot sales restricted to state-licensed
> stores, could also potentially raise billions of added dollars in tax
> revenue while simultaneously bringing an end to the more egregious and
> adverse black-market effects of the plant’s criminalization – such as the
> production of pot by criminal enterprises and its clandestine cultivation
> on public lands.
> Would either option be perfect? No, probably not. (‘Decriminalization,’
> for instance, might indirectly encourage pot use; ‘regulation’ might not
> entirely eliminate the black market sales of pot.) But how can continue
> with the status quo? Since, 1990, law enforcement have arrested over 10
> million Americans–more than the entire population of Los Angeles
> county–on pot charges. Yet, according to federal figures, both marijuana
> production and use are rising. Isn’t it time we began looking at ways to
> address the marijuana issue that move beyond simply arresting and
> prosecuting an inordinate amount of otherwise law-abiding Americans? Or
> must we wait until another 10 million citizens are arrested before our
> state and federal politicians find the courage to begin this discussion?
> Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director for NORML and the NORML Foundation
> in Washington, DC. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
> Attachment: http://norml.net/attached/92V9DBdXlePWM.html
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