Friday, April 27, 2012

Hundreds of Economists: Marijuana Prohibition Costs Billions, Legalization Would Earn Billions

NORML image
Ezekiel Edwards & Rebecca McCray

Over 300 economists, including three Nobel Laureates, recently signed a petition that encourages the president, Congress, governors and state legislatures to carefully consider marijuana legalization in America. The petition draws attention to an article by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, whose findings highlight the substantial cost-savings our government could incur if it were to tax and regulate marijuana, rather than needlessly spending billions of dollars enforcing its prohibition.

Miron predicts that legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement, in addition to generating $2.4 billion annually if taxed like most consumer goods, or $6 billion per year if taxed similarly to alcohol and tobacco. The economists signing the petition note that the budgetary implications of marijuana prohibition are just one of many factors to be considered, but declare it essential that these findings become a serious part of the national decriminalization discussion.

The advantages of marijuana legalization extend far beyond an opportunity to make a dent in our federal deficit. The criminalization of marijuana is one of the many fights in the War on Drugs that has failed miserably. And while it's tempting to associate only the harder, "scarier" drugs with this botched crusade, the fact remains that marijuana prohibition is very much a part of the battle. The federal government has even classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance (its most serious category of substances), placing it in a more dangerous category than cocaine. More than 800,000 people are arrested for marijuana use and possession each year, and 46 percent of all drug prosecutions across the country are for marijuana possession. Yet this costly and time-consuming targeting of marijuana users by law enforcement and lawmakers has done little to quell use of the drug.

The criminalization of marijuana has not only resulted in a startlingly high number of arrests, it also reflects the devastating disparate racial impact of the War on Drugs. Despite ample evidence that marijuana is used more frequently by white people, Blacks and Latinos account for a grossly disproportionate percentage of the 800,000 people arrested annually for marijuana use and possession. These convictions hinder one's ability to find or keep employment, vote or gain access to affordable housing. The fact that these hard-to-shake consequences – bad enough as they are — are suffered more frequently by a demographic that uses marijuana less makes our current policies toward marijuana all the more unfair, unwise and unacceptable.

Our marijuana policies have proven ineffective, expensive and discriminatory. Our courtrooms, jails and prisons remain crowded with nonviolent drug offenders. And yet, the government persists in its costly, racist and counterproductive criminalization of marijuana. We learned our lesson decades ago with alcohol prohibition; it is long overdue for us to do the same with marijuana prohibition. In the face of Miron's new report, and its support from hundreds of economists, we are hopeful that not only will the national conversation surrounding marijuana change, but so will our disastrous policies.

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Anonymous said...

Let's just leave the taxation issue out of it because if it's free, it will be made by a few companies and the pot will come with scary health warnings.

It will also be illegal to smoke home grown pot. It's already illegal to have a home garden in some jurisdictions so don't think I'm having a fertile imagination when it comes to pot.

Anonymous said...

American citizens have to stop being cowards due to wage slavery. I'm tired of "mature" adults saying: "The government is so SCARY. We can't do anything at all because they'll GET us."

That's why people have access to education, social networking, and votes: to change things.

Americans deserve everything they get from this never ending life of fear of the government. The government is just men with large bank accounts, elected by you,paid by you, telling you how to live your lives.

"Illegal" laws can be changed. The constitution can be changed. These changes are called "amendments".
Learn about them people and stop letting your neighbors dictate your loves because of their paranoid fears.

I'm more afraid of my neighbors going on a drunken bender(or a three-day meth binge) and going on a homicidal spree than I am greedy politicians that have weak-willed doormats as "citizens."

Anonymous said...

I don't want these scumbags regulating and taxing cannabis. Just drop all laws regarding personal use and cultivation of cannabis and let the free market take it's course. It wasn't a problem for thousands of years until the assholes started getting involved.

howardtlewisiiiffy said...

I would gladly pay $5.00 an ounce tax for every ounce of Cannabis processed.

Anonymous said...

Who cares how much it costs when a select few (including the PIC, weapons manufacturers, Big Pharma & other corporate government agencies and officials/representatives) are amassing vasts fortunes? Remember the Kennedys? Well, they made their fortunes bootlegin booze during the prohibition era. Who knows? One of our next illustrious corporate presidents may arise from the present prohibition as well.

Anonymous said...

“When I sell liquor, it's called bootlegging; when my patrons serve it on Lake Shore Drive, it's called hospitality.” -- Al Capone

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