Pubdate: Sat, 13 Dec 2008
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2008 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Lawrence E. Merrill


In these difficult financial times when governments are struggling to
meet the basic needs of the people, there is one step that would turn
a major expense into a major source of revenue, but few are advocating
it so far.

We are spending millions of dollars on the state and federal levels
trying unsuccessfully to control marijuana. If instead we legalized it
and taxed it as we do alcohol and cigarettes, the governments would
receive millions of dollars of income, and there would be other
benefits as well.

I am not a fan of smoking pot, but I see little evidence that it does
more damage than alcohol or tobacco, of which I am not a fan, either.
In addition, the plant has a number of beneficial uses, particularly
for fiber. One of my favorite shirts is made of hemp, which had to be
imported because of our ban on marijuana. George Washington, Thomas
Jefferson and many others grew marijuana, which was used among other
things to make the rope that allowed the golden age of sail.

Prohibition of alcohol was an expensive failure. Now the government
makes millions of dollars by taxing alcohol. Our current prohibition
of marijuana is similarly an expensive failure, and the sooner we
recognize it and start benefiting from all the good uses of the plant,
the better off our economy will be.

Lawrence E. Merrill

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