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Should we legalize marijauna to save our inner cities?

America has a huge drug abuse problem that rots our inner cities. If we create a pool of money to fight crime, poverty and hunger in our inner cities the benefits to society would be enormous. Make marijuana legal, tax it excessively and look for matching funds e.g. if Bill and Melinda Gates can fight disease in Africa, they can fight hunger and disease in America.

One way to help end poverty is to revise the tax code. We need a graduated consumption tax to benefit the poor and the lower middle class. A flat tax i.e. 9-9-9 is severely regressive and clearly punishes the poor. A graduated consumption tax benefits those who must pay all their pay checks for basic living expenses.

Make several food stuffs free for everyone e.g. whole grain flour or bread, some milk products, beans, and some kind of oil.

Have recognized local charities and religious organizations distribute the funds (legality?) to cut down on bureaucracy. Give shopowners $5/hour to hire at risk kids; they make up the balance to meet minimum wage. Involve local trade's professionals to provide apprentice programs.

Kids can learn to show up on time and en masse to work to clean up neighborhoods, run errands for the elderly, make minor repairs and take down tagging by gang members.

Day care will also be provided on a subsidized basis. Moms will be trained as day care workers so that others can work in “real” jobs and/or improve their education.

Finally, we should encourage kids to graduate from high school. Every child in defined high-risk areas who graduates, gets some kind of additional benefit whether it be monetary or payment in kind.

These medications for our societal malaise would greatly improve life for inner city residents and promote a return to cities, so that our resource base is extended from the lesser carbon footprint of cities versus rural areas. With the reversal of urban blight we would see a drop in crime, incarceration, and prostitution

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    Oct 16 2011: .
    In the few countries where the consumption of marihuana is legal (here in Belgium and in the Netherlands) we have seen no ill effects (not social, economic or psychological).

    Legally recognized pot vendors pay their taxes, and the cities with coffee shops indeed spend this money rather well. Some cities, for example, have used pot-cash to find solutions to treat hard drug users. With success.

    Legalise and tax definitely works as a win win to society and citizens.

    In parentheses: Around 80% of pot smokers smoke pot after work, as if they're taking a whisky. Weed does not destroy the much revered work ethic. Don't forget that both Belgium and the Netherlands have a very high labor productivity. And never tell a Dutchman he has abandoned the protestant work ethic. These guys invented the concept!
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      Oct 16 2011: Good points Laurens,
      Do you think the existing underlying structure of the cultures contributes to a different outcome? For example, you say 80% of smokers smoke pot after work, which may be different than the situation in the USA for example. You also say that these countries have a very high labor productivity and work ethic. These countries both provide universal health care systems don't they? Do you think that some of those underlying factors may contribute to a more responsible use of the drug?
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        Oct 17 2011: Colleen, very good question.

        Recently there was an anthropological study of the use of alcohol as it relates to culture. And indeed, they found that in "Latin" cultures (Italy, Spain, Greece, France, etc...), people drink a lot, but this does not lead to social problems. Whereas in the UK there's a huge problem with asociality and violence as a result of drinking..

        So yes, culture plays a role in the social effects attributed to the consumption of hedonistic products.

        Perhaps this is true too for marihuana. In Belgium and the Netherlands, we tend to have less "atomistic individualism"; we're perhaps more social. This implies both a lot of social control as well as tolerance. Perhaps that's why smoking weed is more of an "adult" leisure activity, that you do to relax and that isn't meant to interfere with work or family.
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    Oct 15 2011: I agree with Colleen, lots of different issues here.

    Regarding the solutions you offer to solve hunger and disease:
    You are right... or, you may be totally candid, and wrong.

    The argument against your proposition is that all that scaffolding of the needy sectors could potentially encourage them to stay supported, and invite others to underachieve instead of trying to succeed, in order to reap all those free benefits. That's always easier than making an effort.

    I am not making a theoretical point here. I have volunteered for as long as I can remember, and in most cases in relation to poverty, prisoners, sick, abused, and special needs. While it is extremely fulfilling, the one thing that discourages me time and time again is not lack of funding to support the causes, or lack of volunteers, or even lack of time -it is the attitude in many of the people we reach out to. Much to my initial surprise, many had more money than they declared, many really did not have a disability, many claimed benefits that they did not need, many were driving a car nicer than mine!

    No, it is not the car part that bothered me, is the way they had learned to use the system and chosen to remain in it. While I was altruistic in sharing what I could, from material things to time, skills and training, they were unabashedly snatching right and left.

    To their defense, there is a point in suffering and struggling when we lose some of our dignity, our humaneness if you will. Without a solid anchor able to remind us of our ultimate value as individuals and unique creations, without the idea of a reality beyond our present time, we simply return to a very basic default state of self defense, survival and egotism...

    I think the solution needs to go deeper; deeper than what you propose, deeper than what I do, and fill the real need.

    While there will always be some helping hands, as a whole we should rescue them from their ape-ness back into humanness.
    • Oct 15 2011: You offer a bleak outlook; the whole point, though, you may have missed. I talk about strongly encouraging the work ethic. When we see the level of incarceration in this country, something has to change. We are rapidly losing blue collar jobs in manufacturing so there is no market for kids with no high school diploma or even an absence of a college degree. They result---a sharp uptick in violence and drug abuse when idle youth and adults have time and nothing else.

      It seems that you interacted with a large number of people gaming the system. When you have people on public assistance of some kind, swamping our emergency centers when they just have a cold (I know of an example of this) or ongoing diseases such as asthma or cancer, who shield income by being employed in the underground economy, everyone loses. Can you blame them when they make more money gaming the system than they would make at a minimum wage jop? How do you get people off public assistance when there no jobs and we may see this trend continue for a decade?

      I calculated that for every trillion dollars cut from spending, 1 million + people will be unemployed from the public sector. This is assuming just one job lost for every million dollars saved. The trickle down effect could be huge. When we stay at 9% unemployment for a decade, we will experience the lost decade just like Japan---and the impact on the poor will be huge as people get bumped down to minimum wage.
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        Oct 15 2011: Richard,
        Karina didn't miss a thing...she's on the same page:>) You're getting down to some very basics, which are all connected. Your question is: "Should we legalize marijauna to save our inner cities?".

        Then you bring in work ethic, incarceration no market for kids without high school diploma, sharp uptick in violence and drug abuse, gaming the system, public assistance, swamping emergency centers...it's all connected, as you know.

        I've volunteered with the dept. of corrections, women/childrens shelter, family center, and child protective services, and we see the same families generation after generation going through these systems that are apparently failing. Have you checked out this other conversation "Jails should be more widely known as schools". You may see some similar concerns.
        • Oct 15 2011: When I was a slumlord I saw three generations living on welfare.
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        Oct 15 2011: Only three generations???
        I too owned and managed rental properties...32 units...market rents and subsidized elderly housing. There are some people who genuinely need assistance, and there are those who have been brought up in the system, and are experts at using the system.

        My perception is that we, as part of the dysfunctional system are controling them. While it appears that we are "giving" them something, we are actually "taking" from them...self respect, self confidence, self awareness, and the ability to make choices for themselves. We are holding people hostage to a system that does not, in any way, support them...except providing for them financially. That is not living...that is surviving, and we as a society reinforce that over and over again. We need to teach and learn something different.

        I go back to your question...
        "Should we legalize marijauna to save our inner cities?"
        Do we give some of these folks another reason to be non-productive? Do we openly and legally offer a drug to anesthetize them to life even more? That is not my choice.
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      Oct 16 2011: You are right the disease is systematic.

      But the situation is not hopeless: we already have many Local Exchange Trading Systems and alternative currencies. The part still missing is personal responsibility. That is why I am starting a new project.

      Here is how I believe we should fix our current monetary system:
      - the value in the new system has to be unlimited, but it also has to retain value
      - the new system has to be inclusive, it has to let anybody to participate
      - the new transactions will always be traceable, thus easing crime and abuse detection
      - the value in new system has to be immune to stealing
      - the new system has to prevent unnecessary global financial turbulences
      - the new system has to increase personal freedom of participants
      - the new system has to reduce systematic abuse by enforcing direct and personal responsibility

      More about it on my blog:
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        Oct 16 2011: Wow Simon...that is a very indepth project!

        I totally agree that a big missing part, is personal responsibility. I believe our societies are often contributing to the "powerlessness of the individual", and the "systematic oppression" as you write in your blog. If we are really going to support people, we need to create new "tools" for people to work with to discover his/her own personal responsibility. I don't believe that legalizing marijauna is going to save our inner cities. To change our world, we need to encourage the very basic idea of personal responsibility.
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          Oct 16 2011: People were users since start of history.

          All people I know do use some sort of escape from the reality: rock climbing, alcohol, drugs, computer games, literature and arts, travel and many more. Anything that moves our focus away from mundane everyday problems and obligations. We just need to find or create our own beautiful imaginary worlds.

          As long as people are forced to do oppressive tasks, we will have to have a way out. Sadly drug abuse seems is the most harmful one ( well rock climbing can be fatal too :/ ).

          I do believe the drugs problem is a symptom not a cause.
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        Oct 16 2011: Simon, open a new topic. Your project seems nice.
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          Oct 16 2011: Thank you and Colleen for the kind words.

          I for sure will once I have something more to show. Now I need to start studying the existing open source projects to reuse their code. I guess I ll be a busy bee for a while.
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        Oct 16 2011: I agree Simon, that people have been "users" since the start of history, and as Laurens mentions in a recent comment, there are countries where marijauna is legal and does not seem to adversly impact society. It seems like those countries may have a higher rate of employment and better work ethic? I observe that people want to "escape" more when they live in a survival mode.

        I agree with you that drug problems are a symptom...not a cause. Although as a problem like this mushrooms, the symptoms and causes become intertwined. I'm concerned that with legalization in the USA, we would be encouraging the symptoms without dealing with many of the underlying causes.
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          Oct 17 2011: Its funny the language we use. Escaping from reality is by definition impossible. I think its more accurate to say change one perspective on reality. Now of course this can be done in numerous ways, some healthy some dangerous and idiotic. If you are trying to shut out apart of reality then chances are you will run into some trouble, no matter what your chosen medium is.

          Colleen says something interesting about people wanting to escape more when they are in survival mode. Of course we should always remain somewhat in survival mode, but many people remain in survival mode at an intensity that does not match there reality. This decrease the ability to think long term. If something is threatened they are not thing at the time of danger about where they want to be in 5 years. For that we need a certain amount of leisure. So yes I agree many people fall into addiction with this mentality. Some drug, other gambling, others even become workaholics. There is social prices to be paid for all of this.

          That said changing one perspective, or escaping reality if you will, in a healthy manner, knowing that your problems are still there, but it may not be productive to think about them at the moment is the way we get out of this survival mode, that while necessary can also bring us down if that is all we have.
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        Oct 18 2011: You are absolutely right Anthony. Substance abuse is simply creating another reality, or as you say changes one's perspective...at least for a little while. Rather than "escaping" problems, drug abuse usually contributes to problems. I agree that changing one's perspective in a healthy manner may be more productive.
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    Oct 15 2011: No we should not legalize marijuana to save the cities, we should legalize it in order to stop being hypocrites.
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    Oct 16 2011: May I suggest you all take a look at the exceptional documentary by Ken Burns on Prohibition and our recent history. As you watch it, think of substituting Marijuana for alcohol. Ask yourself what have we learned from this recent history and how have we applied it in our present day awareness?

    My conclusion, we didn't learn a thing and continue down the same self righteous path that embodies the seeds of its own destruction. Check out the drug wars in northern Mexico and tell me keeping this drug illegal doesn't contribute to the death and violence, while drug lords make more money than CEO's. While they have no respect for human life or any laws.

    The parallels are uncanny, if we care to look and see.

    Meanwhile when we classify pot in the same way we classify meth, heron and cocaine we undermine all efforts to educate about the real dangers of some drugs. Perhaps the biggest causality of the drug wars is the lack of credible information which leads us down this road of violence, greed and death.
    • Oct 16 2011: Hi Craig!

      You are absolutely right about the Ken Burns documentary and you didn't even mention one of the biggest reasons to legalize pot. More alcholics especially among women occurred when liquor was illegal. When it is illegal there was no age limit, no restrictions that worked and meanwhile the goverrnment lost a huge amount of revenue from taxation.

      We can combine the best of the legalization of pot with a huge effort to get people to stop smoking---period. Kids are going to try mind-altering substances no matter what whether it was sniffing glue in my generation or smoking pot. We now have the choking game where one individual chokes another into unconsciousness to get a rush just before passing out. Some kids have died from this. Or you can use bath salts or legal herbs for the same hallucinatory effects.

      Show me any place where education has resulted in a drop in any risky behavior and I'll buy education is the answer. My solution to smoking and drinking underage is to have time-stamped cell phones. Photograph kids smoking, drinking, doing pot, crystal meth, whatever, turn in the violaters with a time-stamped cell phone and receive half the fine levied on the kids engaging in illegal behavior. Kids won't worry about peer pressure but the would care if they got hit with a $100 find for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for every time they are caught doing that again. Someone with a cell phone might make $1000 from a single party.

      The only way to avoid the fine is to go to court, where a loss at trial results in paying court costs + an additional fine. Only then would the cell phone operator have to testify and gauge whether the social stigma was worth the reward.
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    Oct 15 2011: Legalising marijuana is the only intelligent way to deal with it.
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    Oct 15 2011: Richard,
    You bring up many different challenges here, which could all be discussion topics individually.

    Your main topic question...
    "Should we legalize marijauna to save our inner cities?"

    Has the legalization of alcholol or perscription drugs saved our inner cities?
    The use of perscription drugs on the street is a major challenge these days. Drug stores are broken into, and percsription drugs are stolen from supposedly safe health care facilities. There was recently a case in this area, where it was discovered that a nurse was stealing narcotics from the hospital and selling them to a dealer on the street... that was not an isolated case.

    So, back to your question...
    Is it a good idea to legalize more drugs? Or would it be better to spend the time and energy to change behaviors, perceptions and attitudes? I vote for the latter.
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      Oct 15 2011: Well I don't believe marijuana legalization will solve all our problems,but I really think its silly to compare it to narcotics or pills. Very few people will go to these extremes simply because it is not addictive. A very few might have psychological addictions, as people do with food, sex, games, but there are no physical withdrawal to not using it so people are always clear headed when not using it and most likely so mellow to do such actions while using.
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        Oct 15 2011: Hi Anthony,
        I respect your opinion, and I also know, from volunteering with the dept. of corrections, that very few addicts use only one drug. They often use whatever they can get, and most often it is a combination of drugs. I don't believe legalization, or not legalizing drug use is going to solve all our problems either. We just need to make the best possible choices based on the information we have.
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          Oct 15 2011: If you are gaining your information from the DoC then you have a very skewed sample base. While some people will do whatever they can get most people who imbibe in cannabis do not seek out other drugs. I agree with you that we have to make the best choices with the information that we have. So know this substance is not physically addictive, has never been the cause of an overdose, causes little in the way of crime, ( other than of course people have to buy it on the black market), is starting to show potential for medical use, and other than some increased chance of pulmonary damage if smoked ( which is not at all even necessary) there are no side effects other than temporary short term memory impairment. Giving the information I hardly think labeling it a schedule I drug is the best course of action.
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        Oct 15 2011: Yes Anthony, we make choices based on the information we have, and it sounds like you have some relevant informaion. You say cannabis "causes little in the way of crime (other than of course people have to buy it on the black market )", it causes "some increased chance of pulmonary damage" and "temporary short term memory impairment". And you think this is all a good thing!

        I agree with you that research shows potential in releaving some symtoms caused by medical challenges. It is not necessary to be legal for people who need it to have it for medicinal purposes. In fact, even though it is supposedly illegal in the US, it is pretty easy to get any time...any where.
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          Oct 16 2011: Well it is easy to get for some, but that is not the point. Medicine should not have to be bought illegally as different strains produce different results. Nor should someone who uses it medically have to deal with the stigma of breaking the law. That said not all people who use it use it medically but I due have to say that was a callas remark. To move on to your other points: I agree the black market it supports is bad, but again this is only because it can not be purchased in a legitimate fashion yet. You can outlaw anything and then say it contributes to a black market. Nothing more than a circular argument. As for the pulmonary damage this is obviously a bad side effect, but also one that is completely avoidable as it does not need to be smoked. It works in the same fashion when it is vaporized, but no harmful smoke enters the lungs this way. Finally some temporary short term memory loss may even be desirable in certain situations. Why should the ability to constantly remember all that has just happen irregardless of importance be deemed better than immersing oneself in the senses for a time. Its all a matter of the situation.
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        Oct 16 2011: Anthony,
        I agree...medicine should not have to be bought illegally. I also agree that not all people who use it, use it medically, and the market it supports is not beneficial to society. You're right...it's all a matter of the situation, and hopefully each individual will make well informed decisions in his/her particular situation.
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          Oct 16 2011: Yes to each his or her own, lets spread knowledge not legislation.
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    Oct 17 2011: Excellent insights..... Perhaps one day we can learn from them here in the ole US of A.
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    Oct 16 2011: Richard,
    Excellent point and the exact same thing can be said about pot and the other very dangerous drugs.

    Carl Jung once said, "Enlightenment isn't about imaging figures of light, but about making the darkness consciousness". If we could understand the shadow issues of any form of prohibition, we might evolve.

    I would also recall Gandhi's insights when He said;

    "Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment."

    Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.

    Food for thought...
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    Oct 15 2011: The first thing I noticed after reading this is that you wrote "Moms will be trained as day care workers so that others can work in “real” jobs and/or improve their education." Why is it that you are focusing on moms, why not men and women with children or without? Secondly I believe it is a great idea to get people, especially children, involved in clean-up projects as well as apprenticships and/or other jobs similar to that. This will give people (children) a chance to earn a few dollars, something productive to do, as well as cleaning up their city. These projects will have to be safe and not durring school hours if you are going to allow children to participate.Finally I get to your point about marijuana. I think there are many advantages to legalizing marijuana if it is heavily taxed. Doing so will provide the government with enough money to do these clean up projects talked about earlier. And secondly it will solve the issue of using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
  • Oct 15 2011: I live in Canada where the Marijuana issue has bounced around for twenty years. Many of the subculture preid themselfs of growing the best hydro in the world. Legalise it, collect taxes, everything has been discussed. Here are the facts. !.? addictive or not? Not addictive in the medical sense, but it creates dependency in large groups of young people. it is psychological addiction! 2./ It is a non violent herb? Non violent by the one that smokes it, but to the gang structure around north America it is the main source of income, Hells Angels and a multitude of biker gangs, Mexican gangs in the sou6th of the states still use it for the great source of illegal cash it is. The violence comes from the high profit margin, one pound of weed cost in British Columbia app.2800 U$, resold in the city of LA it sells for 4400 U$. loads of as nuch as fivehundred pounds show a sticker price of 2,000 000.-- with a net profit of more than half a million. This kind of money brings violence, beatings, killings and even decapitation to the forefront of the gang wars. Amsterdam was used as a example of a free Marijuana culture, one week ago the Dutch Gov. has elevated the drug to the same level as Cocaine and Heroin. In the last twenty years the people that smoked cannabis showed an increasing lethatgy, lack of concentration , the young ones in the class room, the older ones on the job, (many in Holland call it the pothead decline). The risk of work accidents and driving accidents including death has increased by twenty percent. Now lets look st the criminal scope. During the prohibition the Mobster grew their business with booze. Take the prohiobition away and ywe gave the Gangsters motivation to look for other enterprises to maintain their hold on income. Legalise Marijuana and all the sales efforts will go to a replacement drug, Crack, Christal Meth, Apeed and whatever is cheap and will increase the cash flow. With this in mind, do not legalise it, educate against its use.
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    Oct 15 2011: I don't even smoke, but in my opinion it should be legal. (I find use of marijuana a stupidity tho)
  • Oct 15 2011: The inner city is not the only place this drug is popular. I grew up in one of the wealthiest parts of Pennsylvania and it was everywhere, we sold it to the inner city. I agree it should be legal but for different reasons. It would slow the violence in the Southwest and we need the tax money. The real problem drugs of today are heroin and cocaine, the kids are using them in huge numbers, especialy heroin. I would use a lot of the tax money to treat those proplems We also need more recreation for the kids, some towns don't even have a place to play basketball let alone a recreation hall.Lastly, we will never stop the flow of drugs into this country so we may as well make them legal with strict regultions and maybe, just maybe the gangs, bikers and othher dealers would be out of things to fight about. I only have this opinion because I don't believe we will ever stop the flow of drugs. If it were up to me we would be a drug free society but that's not realistic.