Legalizing marijuana would lessen the strain on our justice systems. It would save police officers’ time, the government’s budget, prison capacity, and be a step towards addressing the racial injustice in our justice system. Making an arrest takes police officers a couple of hours.
Arresting recreational marijuana users is wasting time that could be better spent going after violent criminals that have caused harm in society. Additionally, studies have shown that legalizing marijuana actually decreases violent crime; this most likely stems from the fact that since it is legal, the criminal activity associated with the drug trade is reduced.
Enforcing marijuana laws costs the state a huge amount of money every year. More arrests are made in the U.S. per year for marijuana offenses than for all violent crimes put together.
Making an arrest costs anywhere from $1,000- $5,000, and in 2018, there were more than 663,000 people arrested for marijuana offenses; this means that taxpayers are paying between $600 million and $3 billion on arresting marijuana users.
Additionally, housing an inmate costs between $30,000- $35,000 a year.
The state would save a huge amount of money by not penalizing people for marijuana use. This is money that could be better used in other government programs, such as healthcare or education.
Legalizing marijuana would also lessen the strain on prison capacity. The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population but has almost 25% of the world’s incarcerated population; 1 out of 5 of these incarcerated individuals are in prison because of a drug offense, and between 40-50% of drug arrests are for marijuana.
This means that legalizing marijuana would significantly help prisons with capacity issues. It would also greatly lessen the number of people that have their lives severely damaged (because of stress, damage to relationships, and difficulty finding a job or renting an apartment) by having a criminal record.
Additionally, legalizing marijuana would help address the racial injustice in our justice system. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), African Americans are about 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than Caucasians, despite that the percentage of marijuana users is about the same amongst both races.
Legalizing marijuana will save the government time, money, space, and decrease racial injustice.