Monday, June 13, 2016

The Cost of the "War on Drugs" is Too High!

Today, I'd like to share with you a 'Letter to the Editor' of our local newspaper, the Las Vegas Review Journal. 

This was written by my colleague and friend, Christopher Tilman, and I agree with him 100%

Contrary to what was expressed in the editorial, marijuana is not a gateway drug — and this has been disproved repeatedly. Likewise, marijuana does not cause cancer, mental illness, birth defects or irreversible brain damage, as was opined. Additionally, marijuana is not physically addictive and there has been no documented overdose death from its use.
While it is true there is a possible link to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in heavy users, this has been found in people who smoke tobacco and marijuana together, so the data is not clear on those who smoke only marijuana.
As to the half truth that the savings to the taxpayer will be negligible, consider that even if there are “only” 90 state prisoners who would be freed, that would save $30,000 per year per prisoner (the cost to incarcerate one prisoner per year in Nevada). That’s $2.7 million per year.
What was not said in the opinion is the cost of police enforcement, prosecution and court time to go after the people arrested for personal use. This is a massive waste of time and resources. The tax benefits that the editorial seems to gloss over are likewise not negligible. Tax revenue projections here are in the $80 million to $100 million per year range due to our tourist-based economy. How this can be ignored is beyond me.
As a criminal defense attorney in Nevada I make money from the current marijuana laws. However, the cost — financial and to our civil liberties — of marijuana’s illegal status and the potential revenue from legalizing recreational marijuana are not something we can look at with a narrow, outdated view that we know does not work.
We are losing our civil liberties because of the drug war and we cannot afford to prosecute adults as part of marijuana prohibition. We need to vote to legalize recreational marijuana.
Christopher Tilman

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