Marijuana is becoming more popular. Or at least it seems to be much more acceptable.
Its value as a painkiller is widely known and even traditionally conservative nations like the good ole U.S.A. have acknowledged the drug’s medicinal effects, and according to media coverage in 2007, Canada leads the developed world in recreational grass smoking.
Is it time to discuss legalizing marijuana? Yes, it probably is.
And for all you stoners out there who prefer the term “decriminalization,” meaning, “we can smoke marijuana but shouldn’t have to pay taxes like alcohol drinkers or cigarette smokers,” you can come back to reality now. It’s more likely than ever that marijuana will be legalized for recreational use. There are lots of reasons for that and tax revenue isn’t the least of them.
Marijuana, for the most part, is controlled by organized crime according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; right now, bike gangs, mafia and triads do not pay any tax on their substantial incomes as drug dealers. And don’t kid yourself, that income is substantial. According to a federal government report, “Cannabis: Report of the Senate Special Committee” published in 2003, the annual marijuana crop in British Columbia is worth $6 billion. That’s $6,000,000,000. That’s a lot of money, and the dollar value is probably a lot higher now than when the 2003 report was published.
While mafia and bikers get rich off marijuana, Canadian society has to pay the costs of the drug dealers’ violence such as incarceration for the gangsters and hospital care for their victims, yet that same Canadian society does not get any of the financial benefits, which leaves society in the hole while gangsters drive around Alberta in Acuras and BMWs.
Instead, Canadian taxpayers should be reaping the financial windfall from this industry. Marijuana users are going to buy their product anyway; rather than criminals growing rich and living in luxury, taxpayers should be see budgets boosted by recreational marijuana revenue, and would also address the health issues marijuana users face; even the strongest proponent of marijuana knows that inhaling unfiltered smoke into lungs can’t be healthy. Some scientific studies have suggested mental effects to long-term marijuana users too. Right now, Canadian taxpayers are already paying the bill for these health issues, with no revenue from the marijuana users themselves. The Cheeches and Chongs should pay their own way like the tobacco users and alcohol drinkers.
Granted, some people in society do not want to see marijuana legalized, and it seems there is always one main argument they fall back on: legalizing marijuana will make more addicts because grass will be easier to get. As noted above, the Vancouver Sun ran a story in 2007 stating Canada was the number one recreational marijuana user among developed nations. Anyone who wants marijuana in Canada can get it relatively easy, and consequences for possession are a joke; It couldn’t be much easier to get right now…anyone who wants it can find it.
Is marijuana dangerous? Marijuana tends to make users docile and stoney; alcohol is a far worse drug and it’s legal. First responders and those in the emergency medical world would no doubt agree alcohol, with its connection to violent moods, is much worse than marijuana, which usually results in a passive user.
Then there’s the libertarian argument about legalizing recreational marijuana use. Canada is said to be a free society, and if a citizen wants to smoke marijuana, who’s to say it’s any worse than cigarettes, chewing tobacco, beer, wine or whiskey?
Finally, the Baby Boomers are getting older by the day. This country already has problems with health budgets, and in Alberta more taxpayer money is poured into the black hole called Alberta Health than all other provincial departments combined. Governments are going to need money to pay for all those extended care facilities and intensive care beds as the Boomers get into their 80’s and 90’s and above.
Six billion dollars can go a long way.