Page 44

According to Jefferson M Fish, Ph.D. of Psychology Today, “The total cost of putting a young adult in prison for a year – even for a non-violent crime like possession of marijuana – is roughly the same as the total cost of putting an age-mate through a year of college. So the question of where society wants to invest its money is clearly drawn.” My question is, “Is it really worth it?” I mean, is marijuana such a demon that folks need to be tossed into a prison with a bunch of true criminal types? Really?! If you think for one moment that the War on Drugs (so-called) is actually working, you might want to visit your local shrink because you’re crazy. It’s NOT working, and anyone with an iota of basic knowledge knows it. In the meantime, our prison populations are escalating, and the cost of a college education is, too. As a result, students have to borrow more and more money. Tax dollars are being misallocated. If you want to deal with the student debt crisis, you have to also reverse the policy of diverting funds from higher education to the War on Drugs. You might say, “Well that’s a stretch!” You might, but in my opinion there is a direct correlation.

Now, about marijuana …

Did you know that some of our most prominent businessmen, entertainers and cultural icons are marijuana users? Yes, it’s true. And some real “squares” in fact – like Rick Steves of Rick Steves Europe (host of one of the PBS travel shows). Then there’s the billionaire Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Airlines who wrote, “Put governments in charge, so that drug production, supply and use can be regulated via doctors, pharmacists and licensed retailers.” And of course we all know that Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon were users, not to mention the famous trumpet player, Louis Armstrong. What would life be like without such songs such as: Let It Be, Imagine, and What A Wonderful World? Just for the heck of it, I looked up some others who participate in marijuana usage, and the list was not only long, but quite 42 / 2016-2017

surprising. The NBA coach Phil Jackson, retired center for the Dallas Cowboys, Mark Stepnoski, the TV icon Ted Turner, and many many more. Turner’s CNN anchor Gwen Scott was quoted as saying, “Ted smokes pot daily in his office.” The famous actor Morgan Freeman was quoted as saying, “Never give up the ganja!” And Willie Nelson who said, “As far as marijuana is concerned, I’m the canary in the coal mine.”

and relied on taxpayers to foot the bill. Unfortunately, these tax dollars have gone to waste. In 1980 (again, according to the Drug Policy Alliance), the United States had roughly 50,000 people in jail for drug law violations – now we have more than a half million (500,000). Money funneled into drug enforcement has meant less funding for education, health, social services (have you noticed all the homeless on the streets

“The total cost of putting a young adult in prison for a year – even for a non-violent crime like possession of marijuana – is roughly the same as the total cost of putting an age-mate through a year of college."

- Jefferson M Fish, Ph.D.

I am by no means suggesting that you all go out and smoke pot. But it’s obvious that the aforementioned people above did not turn out to be street criminals because of their marijuana usage. For all we know, marijuana may have actually enhanced their abilities to succeed in their chosen fields. However, I do believe that there’s a place for good old-fashioned common sense. It’s a shame that so much money is being plowed into things such as the War on Drugs while students in colleges all over our country are drowning in debt ($1.3 trillion and counting, according to Forbes Magazine). The War on Drugs is just one more example of bureaucracy run amok. And unfortunately many of our state representatives and congress men and women don’t have the where-with-all to stop this moving train. Now, let’s back up a minute and see who is getting what money and where it’s being spent. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, over the past four decades, federal and state governments have poured over $1 trillion (that’s with a “t”) into drug war spending

of downtown Lubbock?), and public safety programs, which are struggling to operate on meager funding. Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Administration has an annual budget of $3 billion per year, and that’s according to their own website.

Back to Jefferson M Fish of Psychology Today…

“It might be argued that most people who go to college are different than most who get arrested for drugs – but this only strengthens the case for legalization and sentencing reform. That is, by diverting funds from the criminal justice system to higher education, society would be helping people who can’t afford college, and also helping those who would avoid prison and thereby have improved job prospects because they lack a criminal record. Society as a whole also would benefit by having a better-educated labor force.” On the other hand – with regard to student loans, take some responsibility – and DON’T BORROW more money than you (See A Lost War, Page 44)

The Word 2016-17  

A resource for students, faculty and staff learning the ins-and-outs of Texas Tech University.

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