Rob Kampia’s Tax Day Message: Billions Wasted, Millions Arrested

Rob Kampia, of MPP, wrote a timely analysis of the war on drug users at AlterNet:

How many billions? Last year, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimated that the federal government spends about $2.4 billion annually on enforcing anti-marijuana laws, which is on top of about $5.3 billion that local and state governments spend annually. Under prohibition, we also forgo the roughly $6.2 billion in tax revenues that Prof. Miron says would be generated if marijuana were regulated and taxed like alcohol and tobacco.

But that’s only part of the cost of marijuana prohibition. The federal government has spent over $1 billion since 1998 on TV, radio and print anti-drug ads that have focused overwhelmingly on marijuana, often neglecting far more dangerous drugs like methamphetamine. And the government spends millions of additional dollars conducting and publicizing research that’s designed to justify marijuana prohibition — and an unknown amount campaigning against state and local efforts to reform marijuana laws.

He asked if we were getting our money’s worth and then provided data which indicates that these programs have had no effect on the availability of marijuana. While I don’t smoke it, the last time I checked it was almost as easy to score some weed as it is for a porn queen to score in a room filled with drunken sailors. Then he hit one area where the government has been effective:

All this, despite an all-time record marijuana “eradication” campaign in 2005, with over four million plants seized. Marijuana arrests have also set a record: 771,984 in one year. That’s the equivalent of arresting every man, woman and child in the state of Wyoming plus St. Paul, Minnesota — every year.

So we are spending our tax dollars on a failed program which throws an entire state into jail each year? Seems pretty bass-ackwards, too me.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

8 Comments
  1. So why is the Federal Goverment so obsessed with enforcing anti-marijuana laws? Anyone?

    I for one don’t believe that the Federal Government has a reasonable explanation (other than distorted morals) for what they are doing. If anything, I think they are slowly creating a dark religion of “sins” that must be answered for, gathered from their own guilt-inducing belt wips, back when they were youngsters. Perhaps they lost their senses after reading the revelations in the Bible(some people become insanely stupid and dangerous when they read that crap). Anyway, who knows.

    Sorry for bashing religions so much, but I honestly believe that at least 70% of the US government in the America is run by well-dressed/well-spoken religious fanatics, and that scares the shit out of me.

  2. Why are the Feds obsessed with enforcing anti-pot laws? It’s like that old joke about the guy who loses his contact lens in the kitchen, but looks for it in the bathroom, “because the light is so much better in here.” They have to justify their budgets, and their shiny new equipment, and their training seminars, so better to round up some easy-to-find, largely unarmed potheads than actually go out and take on heavily-armed, sophisticated, and well-financed cocaine cartels. As for well-dressed religious fanatics who the previous poster feels are running the place: if they take their Bible literally, I’d like them to re-read Genesis 1:29, where God says, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth”. Seems pretty clear to me.

    When I think of the government I imagine a sleepless bureaucrat, tossing and turning, tormented by the thought that out there somewhere is someone having fun.

  3. ObyB has something there, but he’s almost a century late. It was the Protestant missionaries in China in the first decade of the last century who were the first voices for drug prohibition, under the idea that since the Chinaman had his opium, he didn’t need to hear about the ‘pie in the sky, by and by, when you die’ that the tso tsos’ were trying to hustle him with. The idea was if you took away the opium, the ‘wog’ would listen to the snakeoil salesmen. A seeming reductio ad absurdum on the part of said missionaries, but recall who we’re talking about here.

  4. Quote by Stephen:
    While I don’t smoke it, the last time I checked it was almost as easy to score some weed as it is for a porn queen to score in a room filled with drunken sailors.

    Almost as as easy…..? Most of us tax paying potheads have given up on buying the crap that prohibition has created. I will never pay a tax to what I refer to as corrupt bunch of wanna be politically correct assholes that some call our government. I prefer to sustain my lifestyle (although in the closet so to say) by never selling, by growing, by teaching others to grow, and by giving thanks to a god that gave me what I sow.

    Peace to all.

  5. Do you know the legal theory of the “law of the land”? The U.S. Constitution is – supposed to be – the “Supreme law of the land”. Here it is: The general misconception is that any statute (law) passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The U.S. Constitution is the Supreme law of the land, and any statute, to be valid, must be in agreement. It is impossible for a law which violates the Constitution to be valid. This is succinctly stated as follows:

    “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.”
    Marbury vs. Madison 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, 1803.

    “No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.”
    16 American Jurisprudence 2d, Sec 177
    late 2d, Sec 256.

    Etc., etc., etc. There you have it. What’s illegal? The laws against Cannabis! How do I figure?

    The Constitution was created by (mostly) Cannabis farmers and early drafts were literally printed on Cannabis hemp paper. Cannabis is literally, physically, “Constitutional”, among other ways to describe it. There is zero possibility that Cannabis hemp would or could have been outlawed by the Founders. They were growing and wearing hemp at the time. The number one commodity to be ready for war with the British, according to Thomas Paine, was that Americans had a strong supply of hemp. Muskets and gun powder were secondary, as I recall his book.

    To give legal weight to the unjust prohibition is – at least – counter-productive for us to do. Don’t recognize unjust laws. Martin Luther King said that people have a duty to break immoral laws. I agree!!!

    Be strong. Stand your ground. It’s solid.

  6. “All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.”
    Marbury vs. Madison 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, 1803.

    “No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.”
    16 American Jurisprudence 2d, Sec 177
    late 2d, Sec 256.

    Accurate quotes, but the courts are empowered with the authority to make that determination. The courts have upheld the current Federal drug laws and so they are currently the “law of the land.”

    To give legal weight to the unjust prohibition is – at least – counter-productive for us to do. Don’t recognize unjust laws. Martin Luther King said that people have a duty to break immoral laws. I agree!!!

    Civil disobedience is a wonderful thing, but it is disobedience to the law as it currently stands and you do risk punishment. Furthermore, smoking a joint in your house is not civil disobedience as recommended by King or Thoreau; it’s more disregarding the law than openly challenging it.

  7. “…almost as easy to score some weed as it is for a porn queen to score in a room filled with drunken sailors…”

    Are you kidding? It is easier. Pizza to my door…45 minutes, 3.4 grams of la verde buena for $50, price and weight unchanged for 15 years…delivered in 10 minutes…like Amex says “absolutely fuckin’ priceless”.

    When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.