Incarceration rate at an all time high, yet no talk of marijuana legalization

The news media is full of shocked responses to the latest report showing that incarceration is at an all time high in America, with one out of every 99.1 adults behind bars. Of course, not one mainstream media article addresses the obvious issue at hand: we would have much less of a problem if marijuana wasn’t illegal. Many of these one out of 99.1 adults wouldn’t be in jail, saving billions in annual prison costs in addition to saving billions spent on the war on drugs annually.

So here we have all of these older, stuffy people gasping at the enormity of our problem (and don’t kid yourself, it’s a huge problem, sapping large percentages of GDP just to keep people locked away), but they aren’t even willing to consider its causes. They are so stuck in this ridiculous mindset that marijuana must remain illegal, despite being less dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes, that they don’t dare even mentioning it. They do suggest softer prison penalties for drunk driving — which, you know, actually does kill people — but not one mention of legalizing marijuana, which doesn’t kill anyone in and of itself, and legalization of which would actually sharply decrease the number of deaths in the drug trade.

Remember the 1960s? (I don’t, but play along.) It’s too bad that all of the societal change the social movements of the day tried to effect failed to materialize. We’re still making the same stupid mistakes, and we’re suffering more for them now than ever before. How much worse does this problem need to get before we see real change?

14 Responses to “Incarceration rate at an all time high, yet no talk of marijuana legalization”

  1. drinian Says:

    Don’t forget that prisons and related “law and order” expenses are often large financial windfalls for some people. Eisenhower was right about the military-industrial complex.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    That’s like saying September 11 was good for the construction and demolition industry. While technically true, the small amount of benefit it derives in those specific industries are far outweighed by the overall large amount of harm done to society. I really hope CCA isn’t lobbying for “tough on crime” initiatives in the hope that it’ll fill up prisons and get them more business, or if they are, I hope they’re not succeeding.

    Damn military-industrial complex.

  3. Ben Yates Says:

    So when are you going to drop the bomb about “big things happening in wikipedialand”?

  4. Cyde Weys Says:

    The change in title for Erik and the appointment of new Board members was pretty much all that was going to happen in the near term. The long term events may hopefully never happen at all.

  5. drinian Says:

    Unfortunately, the argument is probably true in this case. CCA alone spent $2.5 million on lobbying last year. Don’t think that any of that went towards mandatory minimum sentences, etc.? Much more in The Atlantic.

  6. drinian Says:

    Oh, and if you think that most laws are enacted for their benefit to society, you really should watch Lessig’s lecture on corruption.

  7. T2A` Says:

    The war on drugs has been a complete, utter failure. Drugs are just as easy to get and cheap as ever. Billions of taxpayer dollars down the toilet.

    The US has the biggest prison state in the world and one of the highest crime rates too.

    Pot is legal in the Czech Republic, and contrary to what loliticians want us to believe, they don’t have a society full of crazed maniacs running around blowing shit up and killing people. Quite the opposite in fact.

    According to the FBI, the overall Czech drug arrest rate is 1 per 100,000 population. The US’s overall drug arrest rate is 585 per 100,000 population. The Czech robbery rate is 2 per 100,000 population. The US’s robbery rate is 160.2 per 100,000 population.

    Pot prohibition, just like alcohol prohibition, has done more harm than good. The only difference is that pot is MUCH less destructive than alcohol. You can’t overdose on pot, and it’s been shown (not scientifically… yet) that driving while high makes you focus more on what you’re doing. People that are high don’t beat their spouses and kids nor do they rape people.

    The biggest reason pot is still illegal is because its production cannot be controlled and profited upon. America — the great corporate state.

    Don’t kid yourself. Pot is only illegal because it makes people money by being illegal.

    Given that it’s just a plant anyone can grow, there can be no federal control. And a society full of happy, casual pot smokers hurts the big pharmaceutical corporations too, since they would no longer be able to sell their placebo anti-depression medications.

    Which kind of segues into another point — depression (as the media shows it) is a lie. Get a hobby, go outside, and get some exercise. Boom. No more depression. Depression is an evolutionary tool that keeps us from sitting around fucking up our lives. It keeps people out of bad situations; it’s the brain’s way of saying, “The way you’re living is shit and you need to do something about it!”

    Ugh. It pisses me off that these things seem so obvious yet I can’t do anything about it but rant on the interbutts. :/

  8. drinian Says:

    Which kind of segues into another point — depression (as the media shows it) is a lie.

    As someone who personally deals with an anxiety disorder every day, and whose family is genetically predisposed to bipolar disorder, I can tell you with no uncertainty that you have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about. You’re doing a disservice to many people who can only live functional lives because of pharmaceutical advancements over the past 50 years, myself among them.

    Exercise and hobbies can be useful in the long run, as can be therapy, but they’re not any good if you’re not stable to begin with.

  9. T2A` Says:

    Anxiety isn’t depression. My best friend had a sudden onset of anxiety attacks and took medication that let him get over them over the course of a year or so. The depression that gets marketed on TV is simply being sad and disinterested in things… which applies to fucking everyone at some point. As a result, any random person who’s feeling a little emo can run to the doctor and get some pills. Antidepressants are the most-prescribed drugs in this country by far. Everyone’s looking for a quick fix — that instant gratification — rather than actually doing something proper about their sadness.

  10. drinian Says:

    Whether direct marketing of psychoactive drugs to the public is a separate question, but I think they have helped reduce the stigma associated with these drugs. And most of the SSRI-class drugs are out of patent protection now and so aren’t aggressively marketed.

    But I know full well that at least one of my relatives would not be alive today if it were not for antidepressant therapy, and another member of my extended family died shortly before I was born, largely because of attitudes like the one you hold. Depression is very real, and it can have truly crushing consequences.

  11. Cyde Weys Says:

    Just to add my own anecdote to the mix: at varying points I have been on various anti-depressants and ADD drugs. I am not on any of them anymore and I am doing just fine (it was a conscious decision of saying “Enough!” after many years of it). Now I cannot speak for anyone who truly needs them, but in my case, I ended up being happier just working through things on my own. Also, a lot of the depression-causing factors were pretty much teenaged-related.

  12. T2A` Says:

    I saw this and was reminded of this post.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/826059,CST-NWS-bagban05.article

    It seems anyone in this country with any power is FUCKING RETARDED.

  13. robert Says:

    I live in the Czech Republic, and saying that it is “legal” here is an uninformed statement. Tolerance here for it is higher than I expected, but that is not to say it is 100% legal to grow or posess here. There is hope here for decriminalization, and possibly legalization. Just be aware it’s not legal in the Czech Republic.

  14. AD2Bfree Says:

    When will these idiots wake up and see the answer and the truth?
    They wage a WAR in Mexico with drug cartels that “feed the insatiably appetite” for drugs in the US. Then they say how they seized $200 Million dollars worth of Marijuana. And only 10 people where killed in the raid!
    OK I’m thinking, $200 Million Dollars ? of LEGAL profit would be f’in great!.. Supply and demand. Is that not the basic economic principle??.

    THEN I think..wait how many people would that 300 lbs of Marijuana killed? Not counting the dealers on the street, but the people the “product” is bad for! Not one!

    “Who” do we need to wake up? They recently appointed R. Gil Kerlikowske, the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (2/12/09). THAT would be a good start, but how to you tackle that? How do you get through? How can you be heard? Any advice, I’d like to know…