At a recent conference of the Drug Policy Alliance – a public education and advocacy group doing excellent work – I was made aware and/or reminded of some starling yet established facts concerning the ancient and sacred healing herb cannabis.
Prevalence and usage
# 42% of the US population age 12 and older admits to trying cannabis at least one time. This equates to about 100 million people.
# The percentage of Americans favoring cannabis legalization is the highest it has been in 40 years: 41% think it should be legal.
# 75% of Americans favor legalization of medical cannabis use.
# White people consume and sell cannabis at the same rate as African-Americans.
# Domestic production of cannabis in the US is estimated at 20 million pounds per year – higher than at any time in history.
# Mexican drug cartels make up to 80% of their profits from cannabis exported to the US.
# The value of the annual cannabis crop exceeds the value of wheat, cotton and corn combined, making cannabis by far the most valuable agricultural commodity in the US.
# The high monetary value of the cannabis crop is in large measure due to the high price paid for the cannabis harvest, in comparison to the other food crops. This high cost of the cannabis harvest in turn is a function of its illegal status, requiring all kinds of unusual risk-protection measures to be in place. So, if it were legalized the price of the crop is likely to decline significantly.
Prohibition and its costs, potential consequences of its repeal
# 900,000 Americans were arrested in the last year for crimes related to cannabis.
# African-Americans are twice as likely to be arrested as Whites (though usage is the same).
# In California, African Americans make up less than 7% of the population but 22% of those arrested for marihuana offenses, 33% of marihuana-related felony offenses.
# Nearly one half of all prisoners in America are serving sentences for drug related offenses.
# This amounts to about half a million prisoners at an average cost of $40,000 per year per prisoner.
# There are more than 50,000 police paramilitary raids in the US every year – more than 130 every day. Virtually all are for prosecution of drug warrants, the vast majority involving marihuana.
# Many jurisdictions use heavily armed and armored SWAT teams for execution of drug search warrants. (Comment/Question: are they practicing and testing their latest equipment?)
# Legally regulated cannabis would save $7.7 billion in
government expenditures on prohibition: $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local level.
# Revenue from taxation of cannabis sales could range from an estimated $2.4 billion per year if taxed like ordinary consumer goods, to $6.2 billion if taxed like alcohol or tobacco.
# A DEA Administrative Law judge declared in 1988 that “Cannabis is one of the safest therapeutically active substancs known to man…In strict medical terms, marihuan is far safer than many foods we commonly consume.
# In 2007 researchers studied the effects of THC on uses suffering from depression asnd found that moderate doses had an anti-depressant effect, but heavy doses could exacerbate depression.
# Studies in 2003 and 2007 concluded that cannabis does not appear to be causally related to schizophrenia, but that its use could precipitate psychological disorders in people vulnerable to developing psychoses.
# Cannabis smokers can have similar respiratory problems as tobacco smokers, including cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illness and a heightened rist of lung infection. However, a 2006 study funded by NIDA found that smoking cannabis, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer.
# Researcers at UCLA and UCSF determiend that THC.. has an anti-tumor effect.
# The FDA has found THC to be safe and effective for the treatment of nausea, vomiting