The following is a response to:

http://www.examiner.com/strange-news-in-national/willie-nelson-to-sing-his-way-to-freedom-from-a-texas-courtroom

Texas, of course, it would be Texas.  When I first read this article I thought for sure it was a hoax, and that I was browsing a sister website for The Onion News.  I think I’d laugh a lot harder about all this if I wasn’t so frazzled by the thought of how much money and how many man hours of work went into this private acoustic Willie Nelson concert.  How many tax dollars went into harassing and embarrassing this beloved American musician?  And they hassled him for what?  For marijuana possession.  A crime, which is barely recognized by over a dozen states in our country.

“Every farmer that I know of, who is worth his salt or who’s just average, is ahead of the experimental stations and research agronomist in finding better ways, changing ways to plant, cultivate, utilize herbicides, gather, cure, sell farm products. The competition for innovation is tremendous, equivalent to the realm of nuclear physics, even.   In my opinion, it’s different in the case of lawyers. And maybe this is a circumstance that is so inherently true that it can’t be changed. “- Jimmy Carter’s Law Day Address May 4, 1974

I could not agree more, and I don’t think it ends at Lawyers, but also includes Politicians.  Everyone is so perfectly content with reevaluating the American legal system on a case by case basis.  Basically, defending the past against the future, clutching to the old ways.  I think the real founding fathers would be disgusted to see how similar our government is to theirs after more than two centuries of evolution and improvement and growth.  In 1775 the population of the 13 colonies was 2.4 million, including slaves and natives living under colonial control.  As of July 2009 the estimated population of the United States was over 300 million.  We are one hundred times larger than in 1775.  Colonial America is smaller than modern day Costa Rica, in terms of population.

One hundred times larger.  I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.

We have more people in American prison than the entire population of the 13 Colonies in 1775.  The JFA Institute’s study from 2007 says “approximately 30-40 percent of all current prison admissions involve crimes that have no direct or obvious victim other than the perpetrator.”  If the low-ball figure for this study is still valid today, that would mean a reduction in prison population from 2.4 million to about 1.7 million.  700,000 prisoners costs $15 billion every year.  We could save the American people $15 billion every year by merely decriminalizing on a national level.

Legalize it?  Sure, I think we should legalize and tax it, but I understand many people do not feel this way.  Decriminalization is the perfect middle ground.  The tax payers save money, court room time is freed up for more serious crimes, police and DEA can spend their valuable time and efforts on more important tasks, involving much more dangerous drugs like methamphetamine and heroin (both of which are actually safe in pure form and under controlled circumstances, to be completely accurate), and so much more.  The hard truth is that we spend more on prisons and prisoners than we do on education, a black man is almost 8 times more likely to be imprisoned for the same crime as a white man, and there are more than 200 new jail cells created every day in America. (http://www.heartsandminds.org/prisons/facts.htm)

How do you think the founding fathers would feel about that?  Well, other than the black to white incarceration ratio.  Do you think our constitution and legal system is currently working for us now that you’ve considered these facts?  Maybe you do, these kinds of beliefs are akin to religion from a stubbornness standpoint.  I’m not optimistic about changing people’s opinions on key issues, but maybe I can help educate someone who is open-minded enough to accept the facts for what they are, and reexamine the old laws and fears for what they were.  Substance abuse, often times, is a victimless crime.  Sure, intoxication can lead to spousal abuse or car accidents or worse, but emotions can pave the way for any one of those scenarios just as easily.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project we spend $7 billion every year arresting people for marijuana.  Add to that the $15 billion every year to keep them in prison.  These are non-violent offenders of a ludicrous law enacted by biased white men almost a hundred years ago.  It’s time to reevaluate whether or not it’s worth more than $20 billion per year to put our friends, coworkers, siblings, parents, and even grandparents in the ever expanding prison system for a plant that is both scientifically and statistically proven to be not only benign but also beneficial for thousands, if not millions, of Americans.  Certainly, this war on drugs, is not winning.  Surrender is not dishonorable, nor should it be stigmatized, especially when combating inanimate and naturally occurring things.

Hopefully, in the future, maybe later this century, we’ll look back on this time in America and we’ll laugh, like we do about Alcohol Prohibition last century.  “What a silly thing,” we’ll say, “to not only ignore the money making opportunities of these ‘illicit’ chemicals and plants, but to actually spend that much money trying to fight these things, and all the while turning a blind eye to the medical and social impacts; Ha ha!  Ridiculous!”  I’m optimistic about such a scenario, but not always.  Maybe we’ll actually pull a 180 and pay people money for specializing in the creation, distribution, and understanding of these compounds.  Maybe not.  In the meantime, ladies and gentlemen, I present Willie Nelson…