Category: Columns Published on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 07:54 Written by Stephen Pate
Criminalization of marijuana does more harm than good and has no effect on consumption by the public. It does give young people a criminal record.
One of the world’s wealthiest men has come out on the side of legalizing marijuana.
“We should invest in effective education rather than ineffective arrest and incarceration,” writes Soros in the New York Times.
“Our marijuana laws are clearly doing more harm than good. The criminalization of marijuana did not prevent marijuana from becoming the most widely used illegal substance in the United States and many other countries. But it did result in extensive costs and negative consequences.”
All across North America the government and police are carrying out a “war on crime” which is as doomed to failure as the Vietnam war.
In Charlottetown PEI, 30 young people were rounded up at school last week in a “drug raid.” While media savvy, rounding up young people does not and cannot do anything more than give a few of them a criminal record.
The police are announcing hiring a police office to police inside the schools for the single purpose of controlling marijuana use. The comparison of PEI with low school crime to other centers where school violence is prevalent with guns and knives is dishonest.
Soros wrote “Law enforcement agencies today spend many billions of taxpayer dollars annually trying to enforce this unenforceable prohibition. The roughly 750,000 arrests they make each year for possession of small amounts of marijuana represent more than 40% of all drug arrests.”
“Regulating and taxing marijuana would simultaneously save taxpayers billions of dollars in enforcement and incarceration costs, while providing many billions of dollars in revenue annually. It also would reduce the crime, violence and corruption associated with drug markets, and the violations of civil liberties and human rights that occur when large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens are subject to arrest. Police could focus on serious crime instead.”
Soros says that the young and black are ten times more likely to be arrested for marijuana laws than middle aged and non-blacks. Marijuana laws are biased against blacks despite the fact they don’t have a higher use rate.
“Giving millions of young Americans a permanent drug arrest record that may follow them for life serves no one’s interests.”
Who benefits from marijuana laws? Criminals do since they are able to reap profits from the illegal trade just like they did from Prohibition liquor. Ironically in California one of the biggest opponents of legalized marijuana is the alcohol distilling lobby.
“Like many parents and grandparents,”writes Soros, “I am worried about young people getting into trouble with marijuana and other drugs. The best solution, however, is honest and effective drug education.”
Soros points out the obvious that it is easier for young people to get marijuana than alcohol. The reason is that the government controls the distribution and sale of alcohol and puts an age restriction on it. Marijuana is left to biker gangs and organized crime to sell.
“California’s Proposition 19,” writes Soros, “which would legalize the recreational use and small-scale cultivation of marijuana, wouldn’t solve all the problems connected with the drug. But it would represent a major step forward, and its deficiencies can be corrected on the basis of experience.”
“These are the reasons I have decided to support Proposition 19 and invite others to do so.”
George Soros manages the $4.2 billion Soros Fund. He made his early income speculating on international currencies. He still manages money funds and also dedicates $500 million annually to philanthropy around the world. As of 2003, PBS reported he had spent $4 billion on charitable projects. By 2007, Time reported the amount was $7 billion.