Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would stop raiding marijuana distributors in states where it is legal. But last week Holder said he was exploring ways to lower the minimum amount required of pot for the federal prosecution of possession cases.

These are two central issues explored in High: The True Tale of American Marijuana, tonight’s documentary, which show the ridiculously high cost in prosecution and imprisonment, and in the cost to patients to rely on medical marijuana to ease their pain.

It’s true that the importation and sale of illegal drugs funds other criminal organizations, including terrorism. High makes no bones about it. But as Holder points out, pot is central to the drug trade from Mexico. So wouldn’t it be cheaper (less manpower) to legalize it, put it under the same kind of control as alcohol, and tax it; thereby creating a revenue stream rather than a revenue loss?

Additionally, the ban on marijuana has created a ban on the growth of industrial hemp, a plant which has a plethora of uses. But because of the ban on marijuana, hemp cannot be grown for commercial purposes.

In the course of the film, John Holowach also explores the legalization of other drugs and harm-reduction programs to stop the spread of needle-born illnesses and overdoses; but his main focus is the high cost in lives and productivity lost to the criminalization of marijuana. One medical marijuana patient explains that when he uses medical marijuana he is able to work and pay his bills; but now that his prescription has been taken away, he must go back on disability and is runs the risk of loosing his home.

There is some particularly brutal footage of prison training films and moving interviews with families affected by drug prohibitions, along with clever animation and vintage footage used to illustrate the points. But it’s the vast amount of money, the billions annually spent on drug enforcement and incarceration, that really draws home the point. It’s money down a rathole.

Don’t we have better ways to spend our tax dollars? Don’t we have better ways to use our law enforcement personnel? The War on Drugs hasn’t made a difference, but using revenue from the taxation of marijuana could help rebuild our infrastructures (I know, Obama laughed at that) and provide funding for health and welfare.

Prohibition didn’t work. The War on Drugs isn’t working. It’s time for a new paradigm — one which will create revenue and cut costs in the criminal justice system. It seems so simple.

(Full disclosure: I don’t smoke pot or use medical marijuana)

[As a reminder, please take off-topic discussions to the previous thread.]