A national conversation has begun about the irrationality of our drug laws, says Time magazine columnist Joe Klein, who ends up endorsing the legalization of marijuana. He cites New York’s rollback of the Rockfeller laws and states from California to Massachusetts in which “various forms of marijuana decriminalization are being enacted. Klein mentions the prison reform proposal by U.S. Senators. Jim Webb (D-VA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA).
Klein says the U.S. spends $68 billion per year on corrections, and one-third of those being corrected are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. About $150 billion is spent on policing and courts, and 47.5% of all arrests are marijuana-related, Klein says (without citing sources). He claims “an enormous potential windfall in the taxation of marijuana.” Pot may be the largest cash crop in California, with annual revenues approaching $14 billion. A 10 percent pot tax would yield $1.4 billion in California alone. There could be other economic impact, with thousands of new jobs in agriculture, packaging, marketing, and advertising.