Will Marijuana’s Decriminalization Ruin This Company?

Bob Dylan once sang, "Oh, the times they are a-changin'." While these lyrics are not directly tied to marijuana -- although Mr. Dylan has certainly written many on the subject -- they are certainly apt when you consider America's attitude toward pot. Could changing attitudes present a risk to correctional companies?

America's mellowing out on marijuana
A recent CNN poll found that support for legalizing marijuana is soaring, with 55% of respondents supporting the legal use. This poll isn't an outlier; the results are consistent with other marijuana-related surveys. In short, people are becoming more comfortable with marijuana usage. Matter of fact, the survey notes that in 1987, 70% of respondents viewed smoking pot as morally wrong, today that number is 35%.

It's important to note the wording of this question. This question references the legalization of marijuana, something that has been enacted by very few legislatures. Many states have taken a mini-step: decriminalization. Although the words legalization and decriminalization sound similar, they are very different: Legalization is the formal process of making something legal; decriminalization is to punish offenses by means other than prison.

Marijuana policy led by states
The current environment of marijuana laws resembles a poorly designed game of chance. As of right now, there are more than 20 states that have some form of medical marijuana/decriminalization, two that allow marijuana for recreational purposes (Colorado and Washington), and the remainder keeping the drug illegal.


Source: Reason.com

But as the chart shows, this is quickly changing. In 2014, 13 states have initiatives to legalize marijuana, 16 states have medical marijuana up for consideration, and five states have decriminalization on their agendas. Keep in mind this is on a state-by-state basis; the federal government still considers marijuana a Scheduled 1 controlled substance.

However, the federal government seems to have interparty struggles on this issue: the White House has been plagued with inconsistent policy announcements. In one of the higher-profile dustups, DEA head Michelle Leonhart publicly took a position seemingly contrary to that of her boss, Attorney General Eric Holder.

The other side of the aisle is inconsistent on this issue as well, with many Republicans torn between the libertarian view of laissez faire and protection of states' rights in one corner and the moral majority in another. In the earlier referenced CNN poll, one group was still firmly against the legalization of marijuana -- self-identified Republicans.

A shocking number: $31,286
The number that has united both liberals and libertarians, and has led to the decriminalization push: $31,286. That is the average each state spends to house one inmate per year. This outranks most government spending programs by a wide margin; for example, the average per pupil spending in the U.S. is $10,600 per year. For states, correctional spending is the second-fastest growth area of state budgets – trailing only Medicaid. And as of now, there is one company that benefits from that spending like no other—Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW  ) .

The largest corrections company in the U.S.
Corrections Corporation of America, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., bills itself as the leading provider of correctional solutions to federal, state, and local government, and business has been good. From its first contract for an INS facility in Texas, to its current size of 60+ facilities, the company has grown to a $1.8 billion per year revenue-producing giant.

However, top-line growth is slowing: The story of Corrections Corporation of America's revenue can be summed up in two periods 1993-2003 – 22.4% revenue growth per year – and 2003-2013 – 5.7% revenue growth per year. But the legalization of marijuana could be the biggest risk to this company's investment thesis.

Why Corrections Corporation of America investors should fear marijuana's legalization 
A company with slowing top-line growth is one thing, many investments have to deal with growth deceleration – it is expected. Top-line drops, on the other hand, are harder to digest for investors. It is estimated nearly one-quarter of all prison inmates are non-violent drug offenders. Admittedly, that number includes more than just marijuana offenders; but considering that marijuana is the most-abused illegal drug, one should assume that a large percentage of non-violent offenders are marijuana abusers. If legalized, it is very possible Corrections Corporation's top line could shrink.

And even if marijuana isn't outright legalized by legislatures, changing attitudes still present a risk to Corrections Corporation of America's top-line figures. At its heart, the legal system is highly dependent upon public perception. Juries, judges, and attorneys are sensitive to the common zeitgeist. Right now, many taxpayers are asking whether it is worth it to pay $31,286 for a minor marijuana-related offense (and this doesn't even include the other costs of the adjudication process). In fact, some are considering this a cruel form of a handout and would rather reverse the flow of funds by decriminalization fines and fees.

Final Foolish thoughts
It is important for long-term investors to consider public attitudes and regulation in their investing thesis. To be fair, marijuana is still illegal in most municipalities and by the federal government. In addition, the harmful effects of marijuana aren't up for dispute.

But America seems to be more accepting of marijuana usage. So in this case, it appears less regulation actually presents a risk to Corrections Corporation of America and its investors should follow these developments closely.

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Read/Post Comments (71) | Recommend This Article (25)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 2:57 PM, john4828 wrote:

    no it will not ruin them the cops will just have to stop eating doughnuts and do some real police work and get real criminals off the street

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 3:12 PM, CRbchbum wrote:

    The US has the largest prison pop. in the world. Most are for pot time to turn things around..

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 3:14 PM, 1BackAtcha wrote:

    Why won't the GOP get behind a money making, job creating stroke of genius? Something tells me legalization isn't far off but it will come with a hefty price tag attached.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 3:53 PM, VinceKlortho wrote:

    To answer the question in the title : one can only hope it will.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 4:14 PM, quacker wrote:

    its time for taxpayers to stop creating jail jobs for the private sector just to keep a plant out of the hands of the people, and keep making money for jail jobs and medical pharmacies

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 5:28 PM, zdoc wrote:

    "the harmful effects of marijuana aren't up for dispute?" really? which allegedly harmful effects are those? sounds as if jamal is an out-of-work yahoo hack. if this is how the motley fool fact checks all of its articles, i would indeed be a fool to continue reading them.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 5:33 PM, FeralArtist wrote:

    First, that map is not complete. There is a bill in Minnesota which will be introduced this Tuesday for medical marijuana.

    Second, for-profit prisons are one of the main reasons why there's opposition to marijuana becoming legal. NEVER should for-profit prisons be legal in the first place. When there's profit made for a service which should be provided by the government there is always corruption. Example: Halliburton. AND it costs more to incarcerate prisoners when a private company does it vs. the government. Law enforcement is also against marijuana legalization for the same reason. They'll lose federal dollars given them for the so-called 'war on drugs', and they'll lose seized property and the revenue which it generates. They don't care about protecting the public. They care about money.

    If/when private, for-profit prisons fail, I will be the first to volunteer as pallbearer.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 5:37 PM, rambo wrote:

    All drugs ? even prescription ones have issues ? who is to judge which ones are good for anyone ? the constitution's right of the pursuit of happiness is a big one you can't ignore ? whatever happens to you which ever drug you use is your personal problem you have to deal with ? taking away peoples freedom of choice isn't anyone's right to take away others rights because you have decided for them is not american !!! Thank you

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 5:38 PM, FeralArtist wrote:

    I'm with the commenter 'zdoc', "The harmful effects of marijuana aren't up for dispute" is an asinine declaration when studies have proven the effects are FAR less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, and all hard illegal substances, not to mention many, many prescription drugs. Has the author of this article ever heard of 'Google'?

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 5:52 PM, kittyfrisco wrote:

    This is more than great that most states are starting to realize that people who smoke marijuana are not dangerous people at all! It's the system against marijuana that is the whole problem more now than ever since they can't tell us any more lies and spread fear and propaganda like Reefer Madness!

    So all these Correction Corporations of America need to be shuttered all at once, and the Federal Government needs to apologize to all those that it has violated for possession or smoking marijuana and compensate them from money from the Corrections Corporations of America!

    When is Texas going to join the push for total legalization movement?

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 5:56 PM, TMFJCar wrote:

    @zdoc and Feral Artist,

    First, thanks for reading the article and I appreciate your feedback. Overall, I think I was evenhanded on the article but understand your points as well. But I did want to respond.

    First, the harmful effects of smoking anything (including cigarettes) is pretty common knowledge -- that's the main point of my comment considering smoking is the main method of consumption.

    As far as the actual active ingredient -- THC -- goes, many studies state it has effects on developing brains and cognitive development. One such study even said there was a drop of IQ in marijuana users.

    http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 6:11 PM, john420 wrote:

    What studies the FDA and DEA has never let studies happen. Just more Government bs to scare people.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 6:14 PM, cosmoplavix wrote:

    It's way past time to put the Corrections Corporation of America out of business. The criminalization of marijuana has been a cash cow for these soulless profiteers. Here's a brief video that follows how millions of lives have been wrecked by moralistic hypocrites whose sole interest is money: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o-j8v3xtTM

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 6:44 PM, Goatgas wrote:

    Corporations don't care about "constitutional rights". Only profit. If they had their way, we would all be locked up. The government (local or federal)should maintain any and all prisons or jails. incarceration for profit company's should be outlawed, plain and simple.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 6:53 PM, ibme2now4u wrote:

    Heaven forbid a company folding no matter what absurdity it is based on ! Are you people all idiots ? ! ?

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 7:08 PM, LadyMantle wrote:

    Cannabis built the Prison Industrial Complex in this country. It was and still is their cash cow.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 7:30 PM, beachbumct wrote:

    Somehow it doesn't seem upright that a company succeeds in business on the repression of American citizens for endeavoring under the Constitution to "pursuing happiness". Conversely it seems that something so evil SHOULD go out of business or refocus on REAL crime .

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 7:37 PM, robiniva1954 wrote:

    There has been too much invested in this issue. Companies should not make a profit on non-violent incarcerations, especially over what has been more than socially acceptable for years. The government needs to step up and give farmers the option to replace tobacco growth, which has become a finable offense. Ridiculous. Obama's signature on the Farm Act has allowed legalization of growing of hemp...one step forward to legalization of marijuana as a viable crop. Hope that this company does fail...no need for it.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 7:42 PM, braddock1956 wrote:

    One can only hope it will ruin CCA. I'm basically a free market conservative who believes that many things done by the government can be done better by private industry. But some things actually belong under the government's purview and incarceration of prisoners is one of them. We've allowed an industry to develop that has a vested interest in imprisoning as many people as possible for the longest times possible and they have the money to lobby legislatures for ever more restrictive laws. Here in PA two judges were found guilty of sending non-violent juveniles, many on first offenses, to privately run juvenile prison camps in exchange for kickbacks from the prisons. This is a system rife with the potential for corruption and to ruin the lives of innocent people.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 9:02 PM, metou wrote:

    This story is bull, i can show you studies where people are against more than for it, studies can go either way , just find the ones that work for you and i say the author of this story probably is in favor of pot. I can show medical doctors studies that say its bad for your health. here is a few paste from one, it to long to print the whole story --->It’s not the devil,” said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director of Hazelden Center for Youth and Families in Plymouth, Minn. “It’s not going to save society and it’s not going to be the downfall of society. But I have seen more young people coming in with psychotic symptoms related to marijuana.”Still, with marijuana use rising, Lee said he’s seeing more of those patients in his clinic and some are coming from Chicago for treatmen . tMemory and productivity suffer among kids who abuse marijuana, Lee said. “Some kids come in with government conspiracy stories, mild levels of paranoia or disorganized thinking,” he added.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 9:14 PM, metou wrote:

    This story is also misleading, anyone can proposed something , heck the sales tax has been proposed 14 times in our state and failed 14 times and it propsed again for next year. We have medical pot and i voted for it because if you are dying from cancer what different does it make what you take even if it has side effects, if it works on taking away pain i dont care even if it kills you if you are dying anyway or close to it, big difference than sport pot. I wont vote for sports pot and there no talk of it in our papers or anything it kind of a dead issue now, im sure some pot head proposed it, that doesnt mean the state is getting it.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 10:07 PM, JohnMZ87 wrote:

    Do I care if it ruins a correctional company? NO. Should anyone care? NO. Should we legalize and tax everywhere? YES. Simple as that. And don't say it isn't because it is...

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 10:20 PM, wastate1man wrote:

    You can sure tell that this author was very biased and uninformed. There are huge studies of the damage alcohol and cigarettes do. Actually there is nothing medicinally that they do only damage. On other hand the reports about any damages from pot are highly exaggerated. Marijuana has been used medicinally since pre Jesus time from many cultures.It is really funny the declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

    It was a major cash crop for our founding fathers. It was not till some a man wanted to stop it from killing his pulp mills. Also it does not list states like Montana who already have Medical Marijuana. Like Alcohol was legalized so will pot and we the people of the United States of America will be much better off.

    Anyone who see that there has been no negative crime or people driving under the influence. So the narrow minded people who do not have a clue should quit spreading their nonsensical opinions.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 10:32 PM, TMFJCar wrote:

    @wastate1man

    Hey, thanks for reading -- I'm the author. Honestly, I'm not biased at all. As my earlier comment said, smoking anything is generally bad for you. Also, I don't think you read the article fully and correctly-- I clearly state "As of right now, there are more than 20 states that have some form of medical marijuana/decriminalization, two that allow marijuana for recreational purposes (Colorado and Washington), and the remainder keeping the drug illegal."

    Yes, Montana is one of the 20.

    Thanks for reading!

    TMFJCar --The author

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 10:35 PM, SELLmtg wrote:

    My opinion: Buy PMCM ( marijuana cultivation center in CA to lease to 6 marijuana growers (yahoo.finance, news dated 2/14 ) AND applying for a marijuana license to grow marijuana in Canada (news 2/24)).

    PMCM will go higher when it begins to lease to 6 marijuana growers and when it gets a marijuana license from Canada.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 10:59 PM, Simp1eJack wrote:

    I find it funny how people who say marijuana is ohhhh so bad for their mental long term health are also the type to sit back and have a scotch or beer after a long day. Anything is bad when abused. If you eat too much fatty food or have one too many scotches after work or even if you pop too many of those ohhhh so safe Tylenol, you're gonna have a bad time. Long ago our government established laws against it because it was good for their own interests (prisons are just one) and it also was a drug many minorities used. This created prisons, needlessly filled with those minorities, and it allowed pharmaceutical companies to make their own synthetic drugs (there's another). It made for the perfect one-two punch to keep the white majority at the top of the social, political, and economic ladder. This is coming from a white guy mind you. Those who believe it should remain illegal need to stop watching the shadows on the wall.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 11:23 PM, Cheezeeguy63 wrote:

    What about the economic boom American farmers could have with growing and harvesting non-narcotic hemp? Everything from engine fuel to paper and oils, why are we still draining the earths blood to keep the Arabs rich? This could neutralize the Muslim extremists violence, but I guess jobs, American grown products and an economic stimuli is not important these years? What a waste of time and resources only to profit Islam in the end.

  • Report this Comment On March 01, 2014, at 11:38 PM, boots164 wrote:

    Another thing that needs to be made available for medical use is ibogain. This drug has shown time and time again that it has a higher success rate at stopping addictions then any other drug out there but since it causes introspective psychedelic experiences the government won't even let it be used in the controlled environment of a rehab clinic.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 12:41 AM, mick8535 wrote:

    "In addition, the harmful effects of marijuana aren't up for dispute." You know, I thought this was a decent article until I got to this line. Can you say PANDERING? I sure can. She totally lost me there. Pot's so-called harmful effects are totally up for dispute. Garbage, sell-out journalism.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 1:02 AM, shankozwell wrote:

    Good! Let these stupid prisons lose money and go out of business. Prison should be for people that are killers, child molesters, and rapists, and those pushing hard drugs like Heroin. Not people smoking weed, honestly, its a waste of our tax dollars. And the fact that these companies are worried they won't get as much business, here is the worlds smallest violin playing for you! Crooked prisons who only care about the income, rather than the livelihood of individuals.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 1:39 AM, ajuliagulia wrote:

    I hope so! If there is supply, there must be demand. Making prisons for profit creates the necessity that the supply of prison space be filled. There are more black men in prison today than there were slaves before the civil war. A good documentary about the war against drugs is a documentary called: The House I Live In. In the 1960's (before the war against drugs), we didn't have a fraction of the problem our nation faces with drugs today. We spend about $60,000 per prisoner per year. What if we prevented the need for prisons by creating after school programs and preschools for poor single moms who are so busy running around putting food on the table that they have no ability to tend to the children their husbands and boyfriends left them to raise on their own.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 4:26 AM, chromiumbluesix wrote:

    CCA and all such companies are immoral profiteers. These companies require inventory. We are the inventory and the states have willingly gone along with this unconscionable practice far too long. Kickbacks and bribes are the essence of CCA's business. Hopefully the legalization of marijuana bankrupts this company and puts thousands of its employees on the street. Thug law enforcement agencies- DEA for instance- can be substantially downsized or eliminated. The pig state will remain, but on a smaller scale.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 8:49 AM, Chevynuts33 wrote:

    TMFJCar - This is a financial editorial, but as far as NIH claims, one needs to understand funding and constituency from everyone down the ladder ONDCP,HHS, NIDA, DEA and... NIH where Mj models are concerned.

    For Example, opening eyes see the relationships where 'For Profit' prisons affect via lobbying.. but they are somewhat hampered without the power of communicating via 'Mandate'.

    The NIH owns the artificial THC (Delta () and has licensed out 50 apps/diseases for this molecule. Competition!

    The NIH is under the HHS and the HHS helps direct Prison based counseling... in 'private prisons', Competition!

    Ron Paul sued the DEA for explaining why the DEA released inccorect info on MJ and it was the ONDCP which responded (Mandate reasoning). Competition!

    Between the DEA, taking information supplied from the HHS-NIH and utilizing the information's provided, a number of studies have shown to be blatant bad science and completely false in reporting how the studies were conducted.

    I'm not saying Mj does not have any harmful affects, I'm saying the same situation applies where the Prisons for money and the Mj prohibition for money exists. As the 'war on Drugs' is a 50 Billion a year tax paid enterprise, the 'Mandate' is to continue... 50 billion, to include any false information possible.

    And don't get me started on how Obama and Romney both used constituents of the 'Drug War' funding ladder to manage their Campaign Election Funds. 50 billion goes a long ways.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 9:05 AM, Howdie wrote:

    It's just bad that private companies profit by putting people in jail. It creates a private lobbying group who's only goal is to put more people in jail.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 10:22 AM, fpl1954 wrote:

    Prohibition never works. Humans love drugs. If you don't believe it, look at any corner in America. It's a rare corner you don't find at least one drugstore. Just because drugs are legal doesn't mean they aren't drugs. A friend of mine used to say that real drug abuse isn't using drugs recreationally on Friday night, it's popping prescription uppers every morning and prescription downers every night, day after day after day. I agree with him, certainly the folks walking around in a permanent drug haze have worse judgement on average than teenagers smoking dope at the lake.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 10:22 AM, JBuser wrote:

    God of Israel “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16

    Several States in the American Union have legalized the recreational use of marijuana even with studies that state that this drug leads to the use of even more dangerous addictions. How safe is your life, liberty and property if your neighbors are intoxicated, doped up, and mentally impaired, and being so addicted, they are dependent upon the State’s permission to feed their habit. Certainly, their vote, a delegation of sovereign authority, will be used to raise up and maintain wicked magistrates who will be more than happy to support a voters dangerous addictions while conspiring to rob every citizen of everything valuable. Vattel in ‘The Law of Nations’ writes, ” But if they (public magistrates) corrupt the morals of the people, spread a taste for luxury, effeminacy, a rage for licentious pleasures…beware, citizens! beware of those corruptors! they only aim at purchasing slaves in order to exercise over them an arbitrary sway.” The foundation of democracy is virtue. The virtue of the people is the internal law that results in good behavior which is the requirement of self-government in a federal republic. However, if the people become corrupted, we as nation go from self-government to “survival of the fittest,” from a democracy to a mobocracy, and from the mob a strong man must rise who is called a dictator

    Vattel “It is an incontestable truth, that the virtues of the citizens constitute the most happy dispositions that can be desired by a just and wise government.

    Example

    David Hardy 'Juror Testimony' transcript “he felt like...the jury was on one big party...seven jurors drank alcohol....Hardy stated that on several occasions he observed two jurors having one or two mixed drinks during the lunch recess, and one other juror, who was also the foreperson, having a liter of wine...three other jurors smoked marijuana quite regularly during the trial. Moreover, Hardy stated that during the trail he observed one juror ingest cocaine five times and another juror ingest cocaine two or three times. One juror sold a quarter pound of marijuana to another juror during the trial, and took marijuana, cocaine, and drug paraphernalia into the courthouse. Hardy noted that some of the jurors were falling asleep during trial, and that one of the jurors described himself to Hardy as 'flying'. (History of the Common Law, page 526)

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 10:27 AM, JudiSunshine wrote:

    I'm just devastated that people making money off of ruining others' lives will be affected :'(

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 10:33 AM, Jeffrey wrote:

    There will be lost companies, (sorry Bob Barker, had 85% of the Corrections uniforms, supplies, food market cornered), there will be lay offs throughout the Law enforcement circle, millions it not billions of dollars of high tech catch the bad guys equipment will auction off. Seriously far to many lives have been destroyed by a law that was supposed to calm the drug use in the Vietnam experience, it will all balance out. Companies rise and fall everyday on Wall Street, bought to be torn apart and sold. Would Law Enforcement be on the DOW as a winning or losing company? I think there is to much waste to make it a profitable company. Our tax dollars are being wasted to keep small time marijuana offenders in jail or prison. I believe the author said over $30,000 a year. That's our taxes at work, LOL. I'd like to add, I don't support burning of marijuana. Vaporizers, cooking, extractions are far more healthy. Thanks for letting me vent. My Senior term paper was on Pro's and Con's of Legalazation of Marijuana(A+). This was before the end of the 70's, I saw it coming almost before it really got started. So Glad, it has finally arrived.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 10:37 AM, JudiSunshine wrote:

    And yes, the "harmful" effects ARE up for dispute. Come on, author. It's cool that you reply to your commenters, but that was a foolish statement. In the comments, you refer to the smoking aspect, but that is not what you wrote in the article.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 10:38 AM, Fredfair wrote:

    Corrections Corporation of America was created specifically due to prison overpopulation from our huge profitable Criminal Justice industry's need to put marijuana users in prison, confiscate their property an ruin their lives. The whole Criminal Justice system is run like a cross between the mafia and North Korea. Will Correction Corp go out of business? Let's all hope so.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 10:46 AM, MMM2014 wrote:

    I hope marijuana legalization does put this and all other companies like it out of business!

    Private corporate jailers are not good for justice. They don't make money by rehabilitating people. They make money by keeping people in jail.

    So where's their incentive to rehabilitate non-violent criminals? They have NONE! Their only incentive is to keep anyone they can in their facilities to make more money -- and that is not justice -- it's the republican money-making privatization scheme!

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 11:11 AM, TMFJCar wrote:

    @JudiSunshine,

    Thanks for reading and sorry we disagree! I also mentioned something about the active ingredient. Most studies tend to agree with my comment: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

    Again, sorry we diverge here. Overall, I thought I was pretty complimentary of the opportunity for legalization.

    Thanks for reading!

    TMFJCar -- the author

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 11:15 AM, Rockyvnvmc wrote:

    Put them Out of Business !

    Financially incentivizing people to lock other people up, has put More Americans in Prisons, than in any other country in the world !

    This is Not what making a profit in America is supposed to be all about ! We need to disincentivize them, to the point, that they go out of business. Prisons should Not be 'for Profit' !

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 11:46 AM, Trig53 wrote:

    "considering that marijuana is the most-abused illegal drug, one should assume that a large percentage of non-violent offenders are marijuana abusers."

    Sorry, but I seriously disagree here. I have been working for the dept. of corrections in Colorado for about 10 years now. I work in case management, so I see offender cases all day long. Only once have I ever seen an offender in DOC for simply a marijuana related offense. At that time it was multiple arrests for dealing marijuana and he was sentenced to a half way house. He was in DOC for escaping from a half way house. So even at that time it wasn't simply marijuana, it was escape added on top. Nobody goes to prison for simply using marijuana. To think that legalization will effect CCA in any measurable way is wrong.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 12:01 PM, Simp1eJack wrote:

    @TMFJCar

    I appreciate you bringing this information to our attention. What everyone is trying to say is marijuana can be a good thing just as much as it could be bad. Even your link describes what I mentioned earlier. Abuse. Anything can be bad if its abused and marijuana does not have to be smoked. I work in the industry in Colorado and have seen the positive effects first hand with a friend who was diagnosed with cancer. We got him off the painkillers/opiates the hospital was dishing out and he began to eat edibles. He felt better, had an appetite and his body was able to fight the cancer because he wasn't doped up on prescription drugs. I'm happy to say he's in remission and he even said he wouldn't be where he is today if he were still taking all the painkillers, because those, he said, are more addictive and harder to stop than even the most powerful strain of marijuana. I understand you're trying to be objective, and that's fine. Just remember, even a pill like an ibuprofen could be considered a gateway drug, especially when children see their parents taking them like candy. Cheers.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 12:24 PM, TMFJCar wrote:

    @Simp1eJack,

    My thoughts are more nuanced than you assume they are. For the record, I totally agree that anything in excess is bad for you. But there are negative effects to this substance -- although I totally agree it has positive ones as well (I didn't address the medical marijuana angle fully because I felt the science is sound and settled that it helps people and feel that isn't up for dispute either). As your story shows, it clearly does. And, yes, I should be objective and not push my opinion in articles. That happens too much in the media nowadays.

    Again, thanks for commenting

    TMFJCar -- the author

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 12:38 PM, Rat1 wrote:

    Can't speak for other states, but in my 30 years in the Georgia prison system, I never ran across anyone incarcerated just for a 'minor marijuana-related offense'.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 12:48 PM, musicman1969 wrote:

    to the author... saw where you had been called out on the harmful effects thing what a joke. taking a poke at both you and the negative posters here. 1st off you reference a link in a comment that is a gov link. been numerous articles lately that have been talking about the requirement, by law none the less to lie,obscure or suppress any and all information that does not support their cause. in other words any study showing any positive result or benefit from marijuana will not by law be tolerated. id watch where i pull my facts from on this issue. and to the posters saying there is no harm or that it's completely harmless. you might be compelled to say that if you just started or if your worried about getting it legal and don't want to paint an ugly picture. but truth is simple it's not harmless it does come with a cost. i can say this after 35 yrs of heavy use, it does have negatives like it or not. but again in comparison to other "legal" vices there is no comparison. alcohol and tobacco come at huge prices in cost to their users and society in general. marijuana not nearly the cost in either respect. that being said free the weed. fair is fair. i think it should be a personal choice, not 1 for the gov. but think if you believe that's its completely harmless, you might be in for a little surprise later in life. think most herb smokers are aware of this just unwilling to admit it especially under the current situation.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 1:23 PM, rohling wrote:

    Private correctional facilities were a bad idea from the start!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 1:43 PM, dolorfinis wrote:

    Not that any of this actually matters, the only thing that matters is money, but the criminalization of MJ is what should be criminal. The amount of damage & destruction caused by this law is truly astounding. Originally, the lumber industry lobbied against MJ for fear that hemp fiber would annihilate their industry, as well as, white America foolishly believing that white women were smoking it with their black friends (the law itself was born out of racist / xenophobic beliefs). Never was the law even indirectly connected to health concerns. So of course, the black market flourished. Smoking, I am convinced, would decrease if made legal. Thus, the harmful effects of inhaling hot smoke would be limited to those that chose to continue to smoke in the traditional way, vapor now being yet another viable option. Obviously, younger people should avoid using MJ, not unlike alcohol, because of the potential risks on their developing brains. As with alcohol, this risk can be mitigated with age restrictions yet ultimately be a family/societal issue. The war against addicts & addiction has been a dismal failure. There are countless examples of this massive failure, yet nothing changes. Follow the money.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 2:12 PM, mrroboto1975 wrote:

    Rat1, it is not uncommon for "3 strikes" to be a felony with a prison sentance. With posession of marijuana as one offense, and the rolling papers charged as drug paraphanalia as the second offense, it doesn't take much.

    The crime is that marijuana is treated the same as Heroin, PCP, cocaine, meth. But that is what the trend of decriminalization and legalization is working to rectify. Note that I have no empathy for the criminal gangs who distribute marijuana as a base for the rest of their wares, killer drugs that take peoples lives from them.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 4:35 PM, TMFJCar wrote:

    @Rat1 and @Trig53

    "Half of the population that is in prison for substance abuse is in prison for marijuana-related crimes."

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/54803/this-is-how-much-mar...

    Also, you aren't counting parole violations triggered from marijuana usage and the fact many count toward the "three strikes" for habitual offenders. In addition, perhaps you work in a max security facility and these offenders are housed in a minimum security facility.

    In the case of Trig, actually you prove my point in a weird way. Colorado already has legal pot -- it is safe to assume Colorado citizens felt like pot wasn't an incarcerable offense even before it was illegal. Corrections Corporation should look at this with fear if other states turn into Colorado -- I can tell you other states don't feel that way currently.

    Thanks,

    TMFJCar

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 5:06 PM, tws69 wrote:

    I sure Hope all the outside/civilian penal institutions are put out of business. This should be handled only by state/government employees and state/government institutions. I totally agree with fully Legal Pot. I don't use it, but I have seen so many young lives wasted and ruined by our idiotic legal system. My own brother was convicted of selling pot in a Sting operation while he was attending college. He was kicked out of school and given 3 years in prison. (light sentence)

    This ruined the life of a top grade scoring future engineer. The war on drugs has always been a cruel joke, and a way to make money and confiscate property. Law enforcement has even used traffic stops, where they would find a mid to large sum of money and 'Claim It' saying they suspected drug involvement. We have to legalize pot and reduce our prison population. It's Time To Do The Right Thing!!

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 5:21 PM, ArchieBunker wrote:

    Not a matter of will it ruin this country, it's a matter it already has many times over and the pots heads cant even see what it's done to them

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 6:18 PM, Bradknowsall wrote:

    @TMFJCar - Now that I've seen that you actually read the comments here's one for you. You need to report both sides of the issue, not just your anti-marijuana view point. I read your replies to zdoc and Feral Artist. I find it particularly hilarious that you point to government studies, studies done by government scientists with a decidedly anti-marijuana slant and you expect them to tell you the truth? Here's a thought, why not include the studies done that show that THC and marijuana based medications and therapies actually benefit the patients using them. My mother is 80 years old and not someone you'd call a pothead, but she has a medical marijuana recommendation because the creams I can get her at the clubs work better than anything the doctors have prescribed at relieving the pain she has from arthritis. As a journalist, your job is to deliver a balanced and fair viewpoint, not those tainted by your personal biases. Instead of trying to panic your readers about one company's economic woes, maybe you should have written about the thousands of jobs this industry could create or the cures it could produce once the government gets a clue and allows for real testing and research to commence. As for the governments claims that it lowers intelligence, After his death, Carl Sagan's research assistant spilled the beans and said that Carl Sagan was a pothead, as a lot of people like to call us. It was not uncommon for him to get blazed and ponder the wonders of the universe, often coming up with his most profound ideas. I retired early after selling my very successful IT consulting firm. I grew up during the Cold War but a 2 week trip to Moscow opened my eyes to the fact that the Russian people are a great people, much like us. The morale of the story here is don't believe everything the government tells you until you see it with your own eyes. As a journalist, you should be concerned with finding the truth, and that can only be attained by looking at every viewpoint and considering all the facts, not just the ones that support your narrow views.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 6:29 PM, Bradknowsall wrote:

    @TMFJCar - While I'm at it, you write about the effects of the developing brain. To sum it up, that's a scare tactic. You look at any of the state laws currently on the books and those proposals going before the voters in their respective states and you notice that they are all age restrictive, in other words, only for adults. And now you'll want to say that it will get into the hands of children, under these rules, it has the same chances as cigarettes because the only way they get it if someone unscrupulous gives/sells it to them and that's already happening in every state with or without it being legal. I could debate these things all day if you'd like. Criminalizing marijuana was done to protect certain industries that it directly challenges and if you'd do a little research, you'd find that out.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 6:54 PM, markfothebeast wrote:

    Legalization of marijuana is something that is making our drug companies scared. It will most likely become a cheaper all-natural alternative to what the drug companies are offering. And possibly become a competitor to what drug companies are offering and potentially lower their prices that are insanely high.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 7:47 PM, thegreentreefrog wrote:

    Sure lets get them all out of JAIL FREE so they can go on the public Dole and assistance.Sits on FAT (__!__)'s and smoking POT!

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 9:02 PM, thedavesiknow wrote:

    If the average citizen knew what they were paying to keep an inmate in jail ($70,000 annually per inmate here in NY), and how jails and police departments were keeping cannibis illegal predominantly to keep them full for funding and profit as well as to impose the will of dangerous drug companies- they'd be full of the decorated law enforcement officers and fortune 500 ceos in a month.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 9:34 PM, roxander wrote:

    come this election we will vote to legalize it .don't listen to these politicians they are all corrupt if they are so sober why did they squander all of Americas wealth away was it that these politicians were all drunk on booze, whats their excuse .the reason is they are all crooks and liars with only their own agenda on mind .they don't represent Americans they put us in debt they tell us what we can or can not do .my fellow Americans who are we kidding its time to break free from the rotten control of these criminals called politicians .remember they ruined this state and this country .

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 9:37 PM, stickeydreams wrote:

    in this country you have to take a U.A. to get a job. if someone is an alcoholic they can get a job. if a doctor prescribes you OXYCOTINE( heroin ) you can get a job. it is ridiculous to deny a job to someone smoking pot weather prescribed by a doctor or not and HIRE A VIRTUAL HEROIN ADICT.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 10:41 PM, thedavesiknow wrote:

    stickeydreams- you make a valid point. Look at some of the politicians who have a personal stake in drug testing companies. Any cocaine or heroin addict can keep it straight for a few hours and pass a drug test. All those tests really are (somewhat) successful at proving is cannibis use. They're not going to allow reclassification as long is they're getting paid to keep it illegal.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2014, at 11:38 PM, Pray4Peace wrote:

    The U.S. was once at the top of the Best Lists. Best education list. Best health care list. Best opportunities for upward mobility list. No longer. Now we are way down on those lists. Instead we are Number One in the number of people we lock up. There is a connection. Decriminalization of marijuana may help save the country.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 2:26 AM, jaw2785 wrote:

    This article instantley reminded me of this...

    http://rense.com/general37/char.htm

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 3:08 AM, MrJon wrote:

    "As far as the actual active ingredient -- THC -- goes, many studies state it has effects on developing brains and cognitive development. One such study even said there was a drop of IQ in marijuana users."

    After reading this comment, I was deeply compelled to respond. I am 33yrs old. I have been smoking pot since the age of 15 on and off. But a period of 3 years I was smoking an absurd amount (you really don't want to know how much) per day. And even now, when I take IQ test, I STILL score between 189 and 216 depending on which test I take. So tell me again how THC drops IQ?

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 8:46 AM, nicktaste wrote:

    If you invest in CCA, I hope a bird craps in your mouth.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 8:49 AM, nicktaste wrote:

    the reefer madness propaganda that has been perpetuated these last nearly 100 years has been proven demonstrably FALSE.

    If cannabis is so harmful, then why do the most sick and terminally ill people see so much benefit to their health and well being?

    Looking people up for a plant? Trillions spent..

    SHAME ON YOU!

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 8:50 AM, nicktaste wrote:

    ^ looking = locking

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 8:57 AM, Cohesive1 wrote:

    @TMFJCar

    While we are discussing the potential harmful effects of THC, we should also discuss this:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=4506595

    The actual study can be found here:

    http://www.nature.com/onc/journal/v27/n3/full/1210641a.html

    I look forward to your comments.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 11:54 AM, Gambone wrote:

    I'm amazed at how many people commented here, expressing how upset they are and how much they disagree with that one sentence in the article: "the harmful effects of marijuana aren't up for dispute."

    Clearly, most of you are taking that sentence out of context. The article is about the potential impact of legalization or decriminalization on CXW. It's not about moral, ethical, or social implications. It's not about the debate over whether pot is harmful. It's about CXW and how the company's future share price could be negatively impacted by a reduction in the prison population.

    Calling the author a hack or insulting the Motley Fool after posting a tirade about your own thoughts on whether pot should be legal or not simply makes you look ridiculous. You're going on an on about an issue that isn't even the focus of this article.

    Next time, before you all start frantically typing insulting and hostile comments about the author or the website, take some deep breaths. This article is about CXW, not politics or ethics or medical studies. It's about investment and money and how potential changes in legislation may impact one particular company. THAT is what the author meant when he said the effects aren't up for dispute.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2014, at 1:23 PM, TEXIZZ wrote:

    It already has!

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