First it happened in Colorado, then Alaska, Washington, D.C., and Oregon. The legalization of cannabis will probably be the hot-button issue of the next decade or longer, but after looking at the facts, I think it’s safe to say that we should legalize the drug on a national scale.

Why?

It would likely kill off the weaker drug cartels. According to a 2006 figure, about two-thirds of all drug cartel revenue is composed of selling marijuana. By fully legalizing the drug for both medicinal and recreational uses, the cash cow of the drug cartels will literally go up in smoke.

Drug cartels exist only because of the simple law of supply and demand. By legalizing the supply, American growers could create better, safer products than illegal smuggled shipments.

Legalization of marijuana would also clear up many misdemeanors, emptying our jails and prisons. America is the most heavily incarcerated nation on earth, with 4 percent of the world’s population and about 25 percent of all prison inmates. In fact, even North Korea has a lower incarceration rate per capita than we.

Granted, a large number of those people are there for serious crimes. But letting go of the smaller-potato violators would free up our prisons, which are filled to the brim.

Marijuana is considered a Class A drug, comparable to heroin and cocaine. That is a joke. Is it really as dangerous as heroin? I think not! Heroin’s mountain of side effects, including seizures, serious addiction and blood clots, makes marijuana look like child’s play.

If marijuana were legalized, police forces could be better utilized for more serious crimes. With shrinking municipal and city budgets across the nation, it would be best to think about how we are deploying our resources in addition to just keeping wages low.

But perhaps the most capitalistic reason behind the legalization of marijuana would be the financial windfall.

With the majority of the marijuana economy happening outside the scope of the law, the money generated by this trade is not being put back into the economy. Rather, it is being siphoned off by cartels and drug lords. Projections show a $500 million windfall in California if marijuana was legalized. Just imagine how many schools could be built, teachers hired, and roads repaired with $500 million a year in revenue!

With California consuming almost one-seventh of the national marijuana supply, it is crazy to not capitalize on this market and monetize it for the state.

To those who are still sycophants of Nancy Reagan’s “War on Drugs” (including my own mother), I ask you to look around. (I’m not a Reagan hater. In fact, he is one of my favorite presidents.)

We’ve been going at this “War on Drugs” for over two decades now. But how many officers of the law have died in vain? How much national treasure have we plowed into this war? How many lives have been ruined or taken because of it?

At the end of the day, has anything fundamentally changed?

Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Well then, as a nation, we had better come up with a new game plan.

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