Hats off to Rep. Jason Barickman, who supports the legalization of marijuana in Illinois. Conservatives should support legalization because prohibition has failed to prevent widespread use of marijuana. The prohibition of alcohol failed to stop its recreational use and the prohibition of marijuana has failed as well.
Six years ago conservative economist Milton Friedman said marijuana should be legalized because its present prohibition costs America $7.7 billion each year. The government annually arrests over 700,000 people for marijuana possession. That's more than the population of Wyoming. Those arrested often lose their jobs and crowd our prisons and jails. Each prisoner housed for a year costs taxpayers approximately $30,000.
Despite its prohibition, marijuana is sampled by 3.4 million first-time users each year. Currently it is easier for teenagers to obtain marijuana than alcohol. This is because when marijuana sales are illegal they cannot be regulated as alcohol is regulated.
As long as marijuana is illegal, those who sell it will continue to target teenagers because teenagers are guaranteed not to be undercover police. Legalizing marijuana will bring its sales out into the open where law enforcement can see that its sale is regulated and teenagers are protected.
Gary Davis, Lincoln