A rebuttal to Anthony Fanucci’s anti-marijuanna article

At the end of last semester, our Wilkes University president of Student Government, Anthony Fanucci, wrote an opinion piece on why he thinks weed shouldn’t be legalized. The title was “Clinton and Sanders misspoke on the realities of marijuana.”

First of all, Hillary Clinton did not speak much about the issue during the debate. She was only cautious about fully supporting legalization; however she supports it for medicinal purposes. Bernie Sanders brought up great points about legalization and also the ridiculous state of our criminal justice system.

“I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs, which has done an enormous amount of damage.”

Tony Newman, media director at Drug Policy Action, weighed in on the issue via Huffington Post. “The disastrous drug war has persisted for almost 45 years and has ruined millions of lives — through mass incarceration, hundreds of thousands of preventable overdose deaths and HIV infections, not to mention prohibition-related crime, corruption, and violence.”

In your article you mention that around 700,000 people are arrested each year for possession of marijuana, and only less than 400 people are in state and federal prison. You should have stopped and realized that 700,000 people a year is insanely too much. Let me break down the numbers according to drugpolicy.org.

More than $51 billion dollars are spent on the “war on drugs.” In 2013 1.5 million Americans were arrested for non-violent drug charges with 609,000 being for possession of weed. More than 2.2 million were incarcerated in federal, state and local prisons and jails. That puts us at #1 in the world for highest incarceration rate in the world. That’s truly embarrassing. At least now 23 states approve medicinal marijuana and four states so far have legalized recreational pot through taxing and regulating. That goes along with the growing support among Americans which as of this past month stands at exactly 50% according to Gallup.

According to Huffington Post, “In October 2010, Bernard Noble, a 45-year-old trucker and father of seven with two previous nonviolent offenses, was stopped on a New Orleans street with a small amount of marijuana in his pocket. His sentence: more than 13 years.” Also, according to New York Times, “after three decades, criminalization has not affected general usage; about 30 million Americans use marijuana every year. Meanwhile, police forces across the country are strapped for cash, and the more resources they devote to enforcing marijuana laws, the less they have to go after serious, violent crime.

Junior Integrative Media major Taillon Staudenmeier had this to say on legalization. “There is much more to be gained by legalizing marijuana than it is to keeping it illegal and stigmatized. It is excessive that we are arresting 700,000 people a year for a plant that is actually less harmful and less addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.”

Anthony, you mentioned “American taxpayers” being lied to. I think you’re the one lying to yourself. The Huffington Post and drugscience.org state that, “taxpayers have shouldered the cost of arresting and incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people for the possession of marijuana, often in small quantities for personal use.”

You also said that less than 400 people across the country were serving time in prison. That is so far from the truth. Actually, according to most of my sources, and the one you mentioned, there’s actually 40,000 in prison. That number accounts for distribution and not just possession. The number in all prisons for just possession is actually 20,000. It’s on page 239, Anthony.

Also, from that same source you mentioned, the following is what you missed. “Reasonable estimates put total annual incarceration costs for inmates at state and federal facilities serving time on marijuana charges at about $1.2 billion: 40,000 prisoners at about $30,000 per prisoner per year.” I guess you didn’t keep reading past whatever point you failed to make,

Drug testing and also search and seizures alone cost an incredible amount of money. By legalizing weed, the money from taxing and regulating it can go toward good things like infrastructure and schools. It’s working for Colorado and the three other states.

There is minimal proof that marijuana causes negative effects. Smoking tobacco and regular cigarettes have way more carcinogens than pot. I mean even alcohol is much more dangerous. The general public can drink themselves to death at their home. May I add that even sugar is much more dangerous than weed?!

If you buy one drug from a dealer all the time and they have similarly priced drugs that do a lot more damage, the inclination to seek a new high will be stronger than if like cigarettes you are purchasing are in a controlled environment where the risk of lacing is zero and the temptation to try other drugs is much lower.

The weed back then wasn’t as strong, and now today it can be laced with coke and synthetics. Legalizing would get rid of bad people. If the law passed then it would destroy medium level drug dealers. Taillon said, “everything in moderation wouldn’t fall apart because a new substance was added to the market.”

Humans are always going to smoke weed and there’s no ending that. Taillon also commented with, “weed, like many things, will never go away and no matter how much we spend on the war on drugs it will always be available. Just like in the era of prohibition where alcohol was made illegal yet still remained plentiful. We learned absolutely nothing from prohibition”

Lastly, Anthony Fanucci, if  you want my honest opinion, I do not smoke weed and would probably never do it. I mostly support it because of medicinal reasons. I have friends who smoke weed on occasion and that doesn’t bother me, nor should it bother you because frankly it shouldn’t be anyone’s business what people do in their own time.

What I believe in is the right for me and anyone else to do what they want with their own body. Your argument is invalid from all moral economic standpoints. If you ever ran for some type of local or national Government and tried not passing a pro-legalization bill you can bet on many others including myself to protest you. I think you’ll be in the minority very quickly as the country rapidly grows in support for the legalization of marijuana.