Big Brother: The Prison Industrial Complex
Private prison companies and state institutions alike lobby for longer mandatory sentences; stricter enforcement; younger, healthier, and less violent prisoners. Corrections jobs are a major source of rural employment.
Unprecedented mass incarceration plagues the conscience of the Land of the Free.
Prisons contract for an occupancy rate, charging taxpayers for unmet quotas. More Americans are arrested for marijuana annually than for all violent crimes combined. More Americans are in prison than ever before, and since 1985 at least half the increase is drug offenders alone.
Increasingly, lobbyists for drug testing centers and addiction treatment providers have sought to have marijuana dependence (for which there is limited medical evidence) perceived – and insured – as a medical condition. Compulsory and court-ordered treatment for this “addiction” is a reliable source of revenue for unscrupulous operators.
What violent crime remains is largely a product of drugs prohibition. Cash-oriented transactions between known lawbreakers (drug deals) don’t make for peaceful business practices.
All smuggled goods and illegal sales share the same vulnerability to violence. Now, Budweiser and Coors might sue to resolve a contract dispute; in 1929, criminal rum runners settled scores with Molotov cocktails and Tommy guns. Violent deaths of police officers peaked during prohibition and fell rapidly after its repeal; the number of officers wouldn’t approach that level again until the year Nixon declared the War on Drugs.
The violence of black markets still unnecessarily mars American neighborhoods, and unprecedented mass incarceration plagues the conscience of the Land of the Free.
Pharmaceutical industry products are expensive, and many have life-altering side effects. Cannabis can be grown by the patient and has far fewer and less severe side effects.
Before President Ford shut down cannabis research at universities, scientists had noticed cannabis’s effectiveness in reducing seizures, relieving pain, even shrinking tumors. Specialized strains are bred to treat depression, anxiety, nausea, Parkinson’s, and dozens of other common conditions for which patients currently take patented pills.
Despite continued denials by the federal government that marijuana has any accepted medical uses, the government’s own researchers have patented a synthetic cannabinoid called Marinol. Patent No. 6,630,507 credits “The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services” and lists federal researcher as “inventors” of “cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” The patent reads “cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.” A dozen other derived chemicals are in development to treat nerve pain, memory loss, traumatic brain injury, arthritis, hypertension, and obesity.
Since this patent was granted in 1999, The Drug Enforcement Administration has twice renewed its stance that cannabis has “no currently accepted medical use.”
Marijuana prohibition is a $20 Billion annual federal jobs project. Departments and agencies will not give up power or budgets voluntarily. The DEA seized $27 Billion in assets in 2014 through its cannabis enforcement program, in excess of its $3 Billion annual budget. 10,000 DEA employees, 63,000 Federal Prison System employees, border guards, and thousands more “interagency” positions funded by the expansive, failed War on Drugs don’t want to see their budget downsized or authority curtailed.
Similarly, the CIA, NSA, State Department, and Department of Defense also rely heavily on public acceptance of the War on Drugs as a pretense for overriding national sovereignty around the world. In their bullying of Latin American leaders and control of opiate fields in the Levant, drug suppression money is often both carrot and stick.
Liberty vs. Lobbyists
Doing battle against big government and corporate cronies like the criminals above is more satisfying than punching Nazis and more practical than protesting. The American people are fed up with prohibition and the failed War on Drugs.
Ending prohibition has something for everyone:
- Cut the budget deficit
- Prevent opiate overdoses
- Restore respect for the Bill of Rights
- Reduce police violence against minorities
- Attack income inequality
- Improve public health
- Lower unemployment
- Reduce illegal immigration
- Improve survival and reduce violence in developing countries
- Position the US as a leader of humane policy abroad
What can possibly unite an impossibly divided America? A serious push to end prohibition.
Dr. Laura Williams teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking, individual liberties, and the Oxford Comma.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.