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Marijuana laws could potentially put 23 million people in jail

What would happen if we put 23 million cannabis consumers in jail?
What would happen if we put 23 million cannabis consumers in jail?

A recently released study suggests that the number of people who regularly consume cannabis is on the rise.

According to a survey done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 7.3% of Americans ages 12 or older reported regularly consuming marijuana in 2012. This is up slightly from 7% during 2011.

From a span of five years though, the increase is much more noticeable. In 2007, just 5.8% reported consuming cannabis on a regular occasion, marking a 1.5% increase. This means that roughly 23 million people acknowledged consumption.

Are these numbers reliable though? Most people who consume marijuana aren’t too big on giving up that sort of information to a government agency. Chances are these numbers are very low, though it would be tough to guess just how much of the population consumes the plant on a regular basis.

How much consumption is considered to be a regular basis? For the purposes of this survey, it’s considered to be at least once a month.

There was a recording of those who consume on a daily or near daily basis and government estimates put them at about 7.6 million.

A successful campaign and complete enforcement of cannabis laws would put all 23 million of those people in prison for their breaking of the law. A bit extreme since not all of them would go to prison. If they all did go to prison though, they would entirely overwhelm an already crowded system which currently houses 2,266,800 inmates. The US leads the world in incarceration, housing 25% of the entire world’s prison population.

Let’s be a little more realistic though and just count these people as part of those who would be under some form of correctional supervision. They would still dwarf the current amount of people in the system, which currently sits at 6,977,700 adults.

Is it realistic to continue a losing fight against cannabis consumers, especially considering the sheer number of those who partake? The signs already point to the obvious with the war on drugs.

Let’s say that legal efforts were successful. What affect would it have if we were to put an extra 23 million people into the correctional system? It seems obvious that 23 million is an extremely low-ball number too.

Even if we were to only put the daily consumers in, it would still double the number of people in an already crowded system. What sort of drain on the economy would we experience, to say nothing of the social effects as we rip families apart?

It wouldn’t be pretty.

By: Stephen Carter

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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