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J Mac Rust
Airplane pilot, skier, Business Manager, Bull-Dozer operator, cutting horse rider and attorney.
Airplane pilot, skier, Business Manager, Bull-Dozer operator, cutting horse rider and attorney.

Have you ever considered the societal effects of prohibition versus the societal effects of the war on drugs?  On the one hand, alcohol has undoubtedly been the downfall of innumerable people in our society. But prohibition led to the rise of the mob and organized crime that was unprecedented prior to prohibition.

Is a law that is ignored by the majority of the public a good law to have?  I personally could care less whether marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines are legal or illegal.  But consider what our society would be like with less drug dealers and those of the lower socio-economic classes that would benefit from their legalization.  

Consider the following facts:  1.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons reports that 46.5% of all people imprisoned in the Federal Prisons in the United States are imprisoned because of drug offenses, 2. $26.5 Billion dollars was allocated to the drug war in 2013, 3. until the early 1900s Coca-Cola contained Cocaine, 4.  anyone who wants legal methamphetamines can get a prescription for Adderall and obtain the same effects without the side-effects caused by using anhydrous, clorox, or similar catalytic compounds to create the black market version.  There are more than 2 million people in our state and federal jails right now in the United States.

According to, 170,535 people have been sentenced to federal prison for marijuana possession and 1,244,311 people have been sentenced to state prisons.  That does not include the 700,000 people sentenced to county jails for shorter terms.

When we as a society considered the issue of abortion, the welfare of the women who would break the law was a consideration in allowing legalized abortion since it caused many women to be hurt by the illegal abortionist.  Why do we not consider the consequences to our society of putting mostly lower socio-economic people in prison for drugs that are not definitively harmful to the rest of the society (clearly they may be harmful to the person, but no more so than alcohol or smoking or some other addiction which is currently tolerated by society).  

Is it not time to look at the total societal implications of the war on drugs?  Have crimes risen in Colorado or Washington?  The statistics are too new to be definitive, but it does not appear that legalization of marijuana is causing pandemonium or wide spread crime.  It is bringing in significant revenue to the states though.  Maybe that money could be used for drug treatment.  

According to a study by the Justice Policy Institute, every $1 spent on treatment yields $18 in savings related to crime versus $0.37 in public safety benefit per $1 spent on incarceration.  Those numbers just do not make sense.

I have not even scratched the surface of looking at which socio-economic groups are most affected.  Most studies break these numbers up by racial ethnicity, but I would posit that it is more related to socio-economic level than ethnicity.  If a black man has $10,000 to hire an expert on breathalyzers, he is more likely to be found not guilty in trial than a white man that cannot afford an expert.  It is more about money than race.

Is it not time to change our views of drugs and incarceration?  Just a thought.  
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