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Adrian Ulibarri

Shari Sowards
POLI 1100
3/23/2015
Paper #1
Its time for a change in marijuana legislation.
Dear sir or maam, Im writing you today as a representative of my peers and as a citizen
of the city of Taylorsville. The subject that I wish to discuss with you today has been a very
popular subject of debate both in the media and the political arena recently. I am of course
talking about marijuana legislation.
When we look at reforming legislation for any law it is important to look at why that law
came into existence in the first place. Back in the early 1900s America was a very different
place. This was a period in American history when discrimination was still common practice
throughout the United States and played a much more prominent role in decision making in the
political arena. Back then politicians has no qualms with making legislation based on fear or
discrimination rather than solid scientific data. Segregation is a prime example of such
legislation. Politicians would make certain substances or practices illegal simply because it was
common practice in other cultures to whom they believed themselves superior or they could not
understand. They would make up exaggerated lies about substances like marijuana such as
Marijuanas ability to cause men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women.
(drugpolicy.org) I dont believe that laws ought to be founded on principles of fear and
discrimination, I believe that if we are going to make a substance illegal it should be based on
scientific data.

Now some more proactive states such as Colorado and Washington have decriminalized
marijuana and have begun taxing its sales much like most states tax the sale of alcohol. This has
proven to be extremely beneficial to their local economies. In fact Colorado has made so much
money they are being forced to refund millions of dollars to citizens due to a clause in its state
constitution that limits the amount of money it can collect from taxes. (hightimes.com)
These states have proven that legalized marijuana has economic value and can be a great
source of revenue both on local and federal levels. The money that has been collected could go
towards any number of public projects or organizations. We could use the increased tax revenue
to pay for updated text books in our public school systems or to help lower the cost of tuition for
college students. We could use this money to pay for the construction of new parks or libraries.
And this is only the money that would be collected from taxes.
You also have to consider the money that would be saved from incarcerating people for
possession or distribution of marijuana. In the state of Utah possession of marijuana is currently
a class 3 felony. This means that just for having marijuana in your possession you can be
sentenced to up to 5 years in prison and receive up to $5,000 dollars in fines. (utcourts.gov) The
average cost to incarcerate a person for one year is about $27,117 dollars and as of 2013 there
were 7,170 people incarcerated in the state of Utah, (alec.org) of which about 19% were there for
drug or weapons charges. (Corrections) Thats around 1362 inmates that we are paying on
average $27,117 dollars a year to keep in prison. That means the state of Utah is spending almost
$37,000,000 dollars a year to keep people convicted of drug related offences behind bars.

Now I was unable to find any detailed information as to how many of the convicts were
in prison on marijuana related charges; however many it may be, its clear that the money being
spent on their internment could be better allocated elsewhere.
In summary both my peers and I believe that it is time for a change on how you, our
legislators, handle the issue of marijuana. We do not believe that marijuana should be illegal. We
hope that as our representative you will put forth the effort to research the issue for yourself and
help push for a change. Utah needs represeative that can get rid of outdated laws that were
created on principles of discrimination and are costing our state valuable resources that could be
better spent.
Thank you for your time.

Works Cited
"Prison Overcrowding: Utah - ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council." ALEC American
Legislative Exchange Council. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://www.alec.org/initiatives/prisonovercrowding/prison-overcrowding-utah/>.
"Utah Department of Corrections." Utah Department of Corrections. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.
<http://corrections.utah.gov/index.php?
option=com_content&view=article&id=905&Itemid=181>.
"Pot Is Making Colorado So Much Money They Literally Have To Give Some Back To
Residents." High Times. Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://www.hightimes.com/read/pot-makingcolorado-so-much-money-they-literally-have-give-some-back-residents>.
Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/how-did-marijuana-become-illegal-first-place>.
Web. 24 Mar. 2015. <https://www.utcourts.gov/howto/criminallaw/penalties.asp>.