Think of all the money we could save changing one little law

Of course the prison guard unions would hate it, but the libertarians would love it. They’ve been saying this for years.

“I’ve been using my trial membership in Netflix to watch the Showtime series Weed, about a suburban housewife who starts dealing pot to keep her household afloat. As the economy tanks, this has caused me to wonder if changing our approach to marijuana could free up enough money to help offset our state budget shortfalls.

“A study done in June of 2005 by Jeffrey Miron, a Visiting Professor of Economics at Harvard, investigated just this question. He concluded that the annual cost of enforcing current weed prohibition was around $7.7 billion, split about 2/3 to the states and 1/3 to the federal government. (The Office of National Drug Control Policy does not agree with Miron’s conclusions.)

“Miron further concluded that, if the drug were legalized, it could yield an annual tax revenue of $2.4 billion if the tax matched prevailing sales taxes, and $6.2 billion if it were taxed at the rate of alcohol or tobacco. I suspect that many farmers would also appreciate having another cash crop to bolster their income.

“Adding the two figures together, Miron conjectures legalization could improve our nation’s balance sheet by $14 billion annually.”
State budget crisis – time to kick the potheads out of prison? by Tom Barlow, WalletPop, December 22, 2008

$14B is nothing to cough at. And it would bail out Philip Morris or Altira or whatever it calls itself now and their tobacco farmers in a big way. They could just switch to hemp production – smoke some, make paper and whatnot out of some – and hopefully not put too many chemicals in the final product. Yes, I know pot will never be legalized and mass produced, but a girl can dream, can’t I?

(Yes, I know there are problems with pot smoking, mainly that it’s illegal, but if you swap lung damage for liver damage, pot’s about the same damage as liquor, which is legal. Full disclose: I am not a canibis expert by a longshot.)

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