In 2013, the United States government spent $17.7 billion on the NASA program. That same year, they spent an estimated $20 billion on the war on marijuana. Sadly, this enormous amount of money has been simply spent "trying" to stop people from getting high—not actually achieving it. In 2011, marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug in the country and almost half of all adults have tried it at least once in their lives. These are the highest numbers ever recorded, so the government's $20 billion dollar/year marijuana crack-down has been largely ineffective.
Yet even though there are more adults using marijuana and it is more readily available than ever before, where has this money been going? Simple--this $20 billion has been spent to arrest and incarcerate individuals who possess, sell, and consume pot. Since 1989, more people have been put in jail for drug related offenses than for all other violent crimes combined. This is a disturbing trend that many hope the legalization of marijuana will curtail.
Advocates for the legalization of marijuana across the country often point to the fact that marijuana is safer than nicotine, less addictive than caffeine, and causes fewer deaths than alcohol, yet it is the only one that is still illegal. They believe that $20 billion is an awful lot to waste on the war on marijuana—especially since the majority of Americans back the legalization of marijuana. Now that Washington and Colorado have legalized pot, will the federal government join the movement?