Wednesday, March 3, 2010

$77 Billion to End Prohibition

A recently published study by Harvard Economics Professor Jeffery Miron claims that the legalization of marijuana, and subsequent taxing of it, could lead to $77 Billion in revenue for the government alone. Miron breaks it down by saying $44 billion will be saved by not spending the money on police for arrests, judges and prosecutors for all the trials and prisons and prison guards for the incarceration. Another $33 billion would be obtained by tax revenue of legal drugs, like how cigarettes and alcohol are regulated. Miron even says that legalizing and ending the prohibition will reduce the violence crossing the border from Mexico.

Cannabis has been shown to be a relatively safer drug then its legal counterparts, alcohol and tobacco. According to a study published by Oxford University in 2000, a 155 pound human would have to consume about 70 grams to overdose and die, or the equivalent of smoking 140 average joints simultaneously. A little more than 40% of America has used Marijuana before, and 10% claim to have smoked within the last year, indicating that prohibition is not actually preventing use of the drug.

Though I could launch into a diatribe on why the drug should be legalized for political and social reasons, I’ll leave that for other bloggers. Even though $77 billion might not sound like a lot today in the wake of the financial crisis, it is still a lot of money, and right now the government needs all it can get.

Besides the government, the American public could use the jobs as well. According to Time, marijuana has grown to a $14 billion industry in California alone. Imagine the effect it would have on the rest of the country.

Refraining from moral objections, do you think there is any reason why the US should not legalize cannabis? Please share in the comment section.

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  1. There doesn't seem to be a good reason for it to be illegal. Is it any worse than alcohol or tobacco? Most say no. There's been a stigma attached to it for a very long time, that's all. Their opposition to it seems to be grounded in a strong emotional reaction more so than logic.

  2. With exception to legalizing for medical use...
    You compare marijuana to tobacco and alcohol saying it is a "relatively safer' drug. If you toke and drive - your reaction time is severely impaired - just like alcohol - just like texting. Do you know that smoking even a small amount of pot more than doubles the driver's risk of a fatal highway accident? Pot smokers run the same risks as tobacco smokers in terms of chronic cough with phlegm, bronchitis, etc. Marijuana smokers inhale many times more carbon monoxide and tar than do tobacco smokers, likely because marijuana joints are usually unfiltered.

    You wrote:
    "Even though $77 billion might not sound like a lot today in the wake of the financial crisis, it is still a lot of money, and right now the government needs all it can get."
    There are many ways the govnt can increase income. They could charge for the right to vote. Or allow citizens to sell body parts to the highest bidder and then tax that revenue. A person decides to sell both kidneys - go for it!! Increased revenues! It will reduce the deficit - isn't that one of your reasons for supporting legitimitizing?. NO - The gvnt's need for revenue is not a reason to further jeapordize the health of Americans. The $44B savings Miron refers to will have to be allocated toward health care for increases in lung ailments due to pot use. Has the effects of increased use of pot by the populus been factored into the health care reform bill that is being considered now?

    For decades Americans who chose/choose to smoke tobacco have been suing the tobacco industry - and they've been winning. When tobacco use was "in" many people smoked. The medical data was not clear years ago. It's very clear now - it effects each and every user. Yet present day smokers can still sue the tobacco industry?!?! A general argument now is that cannibas is not addictive. Granted it has a significantly lower % addiction rate. However it still DOES have an addiction rate. Don't believe it - let me introduce you to a few of my friends. If it's you or your family member that's doing time in a rehab - a lower addiciton rate isn't going to matter.

    In terms of personal use - been there - done that. And at that time I would have argued for making it available anytime I wanted it. But legitimitizing something that has significant risks just because "it feels good" and can increase revenue needed by a hapless government??? It's fun to speed down a highway at 100 mph weaving in and out of traffic - should we encourage that? Why not? It brings revenue to the government through speeding tickets. Increases business tax revenues paid by the mortician that buries the victims.


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