A couple of years ago, Brad Pitt wrote a spot-on editorial on the sheer craziness of keeping cannabis illegal. Pitt’s main argument is that keeping cannabis illegal does more harm than good. It does not staunch access; it just benefits those who illegally sell it and those who profit by putting others (mostly the poor) in jail:
“Since declaring a war on drugs 40 years ago, the United States has spent more than a trillion dollars, arrested more than 45 million people, and racked up the highest incarceration rate in the world. Yet it remains laughably easy to obtain illegal drugs. So why do we continue down this same path? Why do we talk about the drug war as if it’s a success? It’s a charade.
The drug war continues because it is a system that perpetuates itself. On a local level, any time a bust is made, scarcity drives up prices and, of course, the profit potential. History has taught us that there is no shortage of opportunists willing to fill the void and so the cycle continues and
The practical failure of the war on drugs is just part of the problem. The same policies that have had so little effect on the country’s drug use have deeply and disparately impacted poor and minority communities in the United States. The burdens of over-incarceration and targeted policing have been borne overwhelmingly by the country’s marginalised, making it harder than ever for large swathes of the population to enjoy the American dream. This is not because those communities use narcotics at a greater rate than the rest of us. In fact they don’t. They are just more vulnerable to the war on drugs. It has to stop. It’s one thing to abide by policies that don’t make things better; it’s another to continue with those that actually make things worse.”