Ever wondered why marijuana is illegal in America?
Growing Pot Arrests
Do you get high? If so, you have a lot of company. Although no country has yet legalized marijuana, almost half of the world’s 147 nations have, to some extent, decriminalized it. In the United States, according to an April 2009 Zogby poll, 52 percent of the population now favors legalization—the largest percentage ever.
Despite marijuana’s growing acceptance, most of our elected officials are still reluctant to advocate for the cause. As Rick Doblin, President of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)—a nonprofit that has advocated on behalf of medical marijuana since the 80s—points out: “Most politicians still won’t come out in favor of medical marijuana because they don’t want to appear pro-legalization. And they’re afraid of appearing pro-legalization, because they’re scared of being accused of wanting to give drugs to children.”
And it’s unlikely things will change anytime soon. Pot’s continued criminalization has been championed, sometimes overtly, often covertly, by powerful groups—among them law enforcement agencies, the alcohol and tobacco industries, pharmaceutical companies and the prison-industrial complex—who have repeatedly shaped laws and public opinion to reflect their views.
So weed remains a crime, albeit a very popular one.
Pot Arrest Statistics
Pot arrests are at a near-record high. According to FBI statistics, in 2009 more than 1.7 million people were brought in on marijuana-related charges—almost half of them (758,593 to be exact) for simply smoking pot (as opposed to growing or dealing it).
According to “Lost Revenues and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws,” a report written by Drug Science public policy analyst Jon Gettman, enforcing America’s pot laws costs taxpayers an annual $10.7 billion. Not to mention the overburdening of our criminal justice system and disruption of the lives of those who find themselves with a criminal record for smoking an occasional joint.
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