The Christian Science Monitor features a “one minute debate” between our own Paul Armentano and legendary prohibitionist Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. I have a question: what kind of pinners does Calvina Fay roll?
Legalizing marijuana use would substantially increase its already formidable costs to society. That’s because the initiative would allow individuals to possess up to about 120 joints and cultivate 25 square feet of plants, capable of yielding up to 240,000 joints.
Prop 19 legalizes an ounce of cannabis. 120 joints? That works out to 236 milligrams per joint. Seriously, is anyone out there rolling less-than-a-quarter-gram joints?
Calvina Fay likes to use the “joint” as if it is an international standard of measurement (25 square feet produces 240 kilojoints! Almost a quarter of a megajoint!) The point is to scare readers into thinking they are legalizing enough marijuana for a shady drug dealer to sell to hundreds of kids.
Prohibitionists use the same tactic when it comes to plant seizures. Police will snatch up a dozen two-inch seedlings and tell you they would be worth $12 bajillion on the streets… unless they belonged to medical marijuana patients, then they’ll just let them die in an evidence locker.
In the real world, the US government is rolling 400 milligram joints for the four remaining federal medical marijuana patients. That’s about 70 joints to the ounce. Tokers I know here in the Pacific Northwest roll them at 750 mg to 1g per joint. That’s 28 to 38 joints to the ounce. Unless it’s Seattle Hempfest, and then you’ll find 1 joint to the ounce.
OK, Calvina, if you'll just tell us what "Cost" equals now and how much it will increase under legalization, we can figure our whether it is greater than or less than the $1 billion we're spending on prohibiting cannabis in California now.
Here’s another question: how much are these “formidable costs to society”? Notice how they never quantify that? What are the costs now, Calvina, and by what factor would they increase under legalization? Whatever the costs are now, we’re paying that now. Add to that the cost of keeping pot illegal that we’re paying now. Subtract from that total how much we bring in from taxes… oh, wait, that’s zero, so never mind.
Whatever the increased cost equals, it has to be more than what we’d save in enforcement costs plus what we’d earn in taxes for your scare tactic to make any sense. We’re spending $1 billion failing to stop anyone from smoking pot now. Do you really think the increase in these mystery costs will equal or beat $1 billion, Calvina?