It's time to end the drug war that has done nothing but hurt innocent people, create ugly, disheartening social rifts, empower black markets, and make private corporations richer at the expense of the public. Join us in our pursuit of a 420 friendly world, and a friendlier world in general.
With less than 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population, the United States imprisons more people than any other nation in the world. More than 50 percent of these prisoners are in for drug-related violations with 80% of those violations being for mere possession. According to the ACLU, "between 2001 and 2010, there were 8,244,943 marijuana arrests, of which 7,295,880, or 88%, were for marijuana possession." Although the claimed intention of the anti-drug policies was protection of our citizens, these policies have had the exact opposite effect.
Given the rate at which we incarcerate our own citizens, it is no surprise that one of the fastest growing industries in the country is privatized prisons. We are putting so many people behind bars that our government is actually outsourcing its duties of watching over and supposedly "rehabilitating" the prisoners. Instead it seems that crime really does pay, but not in the traditional sense of the saying. According to a University of Wisconsin Study, these privatized prisons instead of being a cost-effective option are increasing costs by keeping inmates longer in order to boost profits. Today, the privatized prison industry, which houses about 20% of the country’s inmate population, is estimated to be worth a whopping $5 billion. The reason for the blooming of these private prisons can be traced back to the War on Drugs policies of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan under which the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug law offenses skyrocketed from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997. Even the President has recognized that the system is flawed:
“Over the last few decades, we’ve also locked up more and more nonviolent drug offenders than ever before, for longer than ever before… [a]nd that is the real reason our prison population is so high.”
We are not just unjustly locking up people at a higher rate than ever before, we are also paying the increasingly heavy cost of incarceration. In California it costs the state about $47,000 per year to incarcerate an inmate, and this cost is not getting any cheaper. According to California's Legislative Analyst Office, the cost per year to incarcerate an inmate has gone up an approximate $19,500 since 2000-2001. There is a way, however, by which we can begin to put an end to this epidemic – both the injustice and the cost. This November, Californians have the opportunity to take a gigantic leap forward by putting an end to prohibition by voting for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for recreational use.