For societies sake, marijuana needs to be legalised

Vastet's picture

I originally wrote this back in March of 2005, in response to a letter to the editor written to a local newspaper. A recent post regarding the war on drugs and religion by another forumite reminded me of it, and it's importance. So I went and dug it up. Here it is.
Most Americans and those of nations other than Canada may not be aware of the incident. But earlier this month, 4 RCMP(Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officers were gunned down by James Roszko, before he took his own life. Roszko was a known cop hater, and convicted child molestor. He also happened to be growing marijuana. And in a day where my country is polarized on one or the other side of the argument, some moron wrote the following to a local paper:

"For all those people who say marijuana doesn't hurt or affect people and shouldn't be illegal, try telling that to the families of the four RCMP officers killed because of weed last Thursday.
It's time we did a reality check on our values and morals as a society.
To the families of the four RCMP officers, I express my sincerest condolences, and may God bless them"
Todd Smart

I didn't edit that in any way. Feel free to locate the March 10/2005 Kingston Whig-Standard if you feel you must.

I view this as insulting. The only thing that he said that I agree with is offering condolences. I don't usually write to the editor. I've only done it once before, to call Hiroshima and Nagasaki what they really were: Terrorism. Well now I've written a second letter. And this one is a lot longer.

Keep in mind that all figures in this are based on Canadian currency, Canadian tax laws, and Canadian population statistics. It's a local paper I wrote to, so it's all Canadian.

I'm somewhat interested to see what people here have to say. So without further ado, my letter:

On March 10 Todd Smart wrote that marijuana was, in
his opinion, responsible for the tragedy in Alberta.

On the contrary. If anything, it proves that keeping
marijuana illegal is more dangerous than legalizing it
and taxing it. If marijuana was sold in stores like
cigarettes, it's possible that this incident would not
have happened. No guarantees obviously, it could very
well have happened anyway. But there is no case
whatsoever to be made that marijuana was a deciding

It's high time Canada took marijuana out of the
pockets of the criminal underground. The black market
for marijuana was estimated to be valued at between 4
and 7 BILLION dollars annually. That's sick. 4-7
billion dollars tied up in crime. With no taxes to be
paid on a single cent of it. All that money used to
further more criminal activity, likely not even
directly related to marijuana. Other drugs for
example. And weapons for another.

Currently the Canadian government spends about
$500,000 a year to curb marijuana according to the
With all due respect to law enforcement, this is not
an issue they have any chance of solving. They have
500,000 dollars to fight against a multi billion
dollar industry. They don't have a chance.

I'm going to do some number crunching here.

There are approximately 35 million people in Canada. A
fairly recent Statscan poll showed that 10 million
Canadians have smoked marijuana. Almost 1/3 of the
population. Obviously that many people don't smoke
regularly, so I'll use a more conservative estimate of
5% of the Canadian population smoking marijuana
regularly. I know that number is not scientifically
accurate, but I could not locate a figure to use.

5% of 35 million is 1.75 million people.

Lets assume that each of these people smoke one
marijuana cigarette a day(compared to 20 tobacco
cigarettes a day for the average smoker). A carton of
cigarettes contains 200 grams of tobacco, in 200
cigarettes. We'll assume that a marijuana cigarette
and a tobacco cigarette contain the same weight.
So 1.75 million grams of marijuana are smoked per day,
as a conservative estimate.

A pack of 25 cigarettes costs approximately 7 dollars
today in Ontario. If you packaged marijuana cigarettes
the same as tobacco cigarettes, and have the price for
both be exactly the same; then factor 1.75 million
grams divided by 25 per pack is 70,000 packs of
marijuana cigarettes a day.

In Ontario, between 63 and 79% of the price of a pack
of cigarettes is taxes. Low estimate is that the
government recieves $4.41 per pack sold.

If, as stated above, you consider marijuana and
tobacco to be interchangeable as far as packaging and
pricing is concerned, that means $308,700 a day($112.6
million a year) in taxes on marijuana cigarettes. At
the same time, you eliminate the black markets $17.5
million a day profit, and eliminating the $500,000 a
year that the government spends on fighting the black
market on this issue.

Long story short:
Right now we have the black market pulling in billions
a year, and the government spending hundreds of
thousands in a futile attempt to curb the black
market. Not to mention the cost in lives of our police
officers and civillian population.

If legalized and taxed as stated above, the black
market makes $0 on marijuana. The government spends $0
trying to curb the market's selling of it. And the
government makes an extra $112 million a year to put
into things like health care and education. And
suddenly the police don't have to worry about
marijuana, and can concentrate on drugs that have a
more severe impact on society.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

Tilberian's picture

Great letter!  Someone

Great letter!  Someone should do those numbers for the US, where something like 100K people are imprisoned for simple possession.


Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown

Vastet's picture

I had thought about

I had thought about including the amount of money spent on arrest, detainment, trial, prosecution & defense(often the gov't has to pay for both), clerical work, imprisonment(food, shelter, medical care, supervision, etc), and then probationary costs(and anything else slipping through the cracks), but I had no viable way of coming up with a valid study in a short time.

Edit: Thanks. Smiling

*Slaps self for not mentioning it the first time*

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

Angelic_Atheist's picture

Great letter!

Great letter!

I second the request for anyone who has the inclination to crunch the numbers for the U.S. I would be very interested.

We must favor verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.
~ Richard Dawkins