Marijuana- Criminal-Industrial Complex—Gain of $ 9 Billion But At What Cost? –

Majid Ali, M.D.

I have been fond of President Dwight Eisenhower for many reasons. As a high student in Multan, Pakistan, he stood for the America I saw in black-and-white film clips. Coming to the United States in 1966, American history quickly became a preoccupation. Eisenhower grew larger and larger in my imagination.

On November 29, I saw a marijuana documentary on Aljazeera TV. Not unexpectedly, many of of the supporters of marijuana legalization movement dismissed the issue of adverse health effects of the weed by comparing its toxicity to that of alcohol and painkillers. Some of them vehemently made the argument that it would bring sourly needed funds for building and funding schools in poor communities. I learned something new: people who profit from the weed industry include an ever-growing number of cops who make marijuana arrests profit handsomely from overtime they do in courts when their cases come up. They, of course, feed only on crumbs. I also learned from the former president Fox of Mexico that marijuana accounts for about 40% of the drug cartel’s largesse (estimated to be larger than $20 billion).

What caught my attention in the documentary was the gleeful claim of one weed supporter that the federal government is expected to reap $9 billion annually from taxes aloneno doubt for building schools in poor communities. Earning $9 billion but at what cost? It is then that Eisenhower returned and words of the title of this article came together.

Gain of $ 9 Billion But At What Cost?

What kind of national marijuana economy would generate $9 billion for government coffers? I want to sidestep this question. How much illness and suffering for how many millions of people would that marijuana economy generate? This question does concern me. Marijuana clearly is a gateful drug for an increasing number of young people. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the subject:

“A 2013 literature review said that exposure to marijuana had biologically-based physical, mental, behavioral and social health consequences and was “associated with diseases of the liver (particularly with co-existing hepatitis C), lungs, heart, and vasculature”. The authors cautioned that “evidence is needed, and further research should be considered, to prove causal associations of marijuana with many physical health conditions”.

Here is another excerpt from Wikipedia:

“A 2012 literature survey by the British Lung Foundation identified cannabis smoke as a carcinogen and also found awareness of the danger was low compared with 40% of under 35s thinking that cannabis was not harmful. Other observations include increased risk from each cigarette due to drawing in larger puffs of smoke than cigarette smokers and holding the smoke in for longer.”

So, Gain of $ 9 Billion of Marijuana Taxes But At What Cost?

I am a pathologist. My friends on my autopsy tables related accounts of illness caused by mood-altering substances that are quite different from sterile words from Wikipedia reproduced above.

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