Economic Benefits of the Legalization of Marijuana

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Introduction
Anyone who is paying even the slightest bit of attention to the controversy which rages around the legalization of marijuana has certainly heard of the many benefits of legalization. We hear argument that claim prohibition did not work for alcohol and it is certainly not working for marijuana. We have heard that there are many positive health benefits to smoking marijuana for people with particular illnesses. And, we have certainly heard the cry that argues the economy would be far better off if marijuana were taken off the black market and put into a legalized position that would benefit the economy. In the following paper we examine the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana. The paper begins with a general look at how the economy could be boosted with legalization and then discusses the specific benefits as they involve the imprisonment of non-violent drug offenders. The paper follows with an informative section which illustrates why many drug companies do not wish it to be legalized, for their own economic reasons.

The Economy in General
In most recent times it seems that the state of Nevada is seeking to legalize marijuana, with the primary argument that it can boost the economic conditions of that state. While Nevada is only one small portion of the country it does serve to offer us an example of many of the economic benefits to legalizing marijuana.

The author states that “Supporters of an initiative that would decriminalize marijuana in Nevada said the state would benefit from millions of dollars raised by selling and taxing the drug, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Aug. 24” (Anonymous Economic Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana Touted, 2002; 0,1854,553668,00.html). The spokesman for Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, Billy Rogers, stated “We are talking millions and millions of dollars of tax revenue....We figure there are 150,000 regular marijuana users in Nevada who might buy an ounce per month” (Anonymous Economic Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana Touted, 2002; 0,1854,553668,00.html). Without even knowing the cost of an average ounce of marijuana in Nevada, we can see that the math adds up to an incredible amount of revenue for one single state.

In further examining the possible revenue we turn to one author who does general math in presenting us with possible figures. Mintus (2002) states, “Let’s say the average semi-daily pot smoker spends $40 every week on weed. That’s over $2000 per person each year that isn’t accounted for come tax time” And, considering that “three percent of the adult population admittedly smokes marijuana habitually” we are talking an astronomical amount of revenue for the country.

In addition, if we put aside the most basic cost associated with an ounce of marijuana, we are also left with the benefits seen in the taxation of such a product. In Nevada “the measure outlines the tax rate for the sale of marijuana. It calls for the same rate as chewing tobacco and cigars, which is currently 37 percent,” an incredible amount of money which could serve to powerfully boost any state’s economy. And, as Rogers further argues, “Any time you find a revenue source that can help fund education and other programs, the implications are attractive to voters” (Anonymous Economic Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana Touted, 2002; 0,1854,553668,00.html). This is clearly something that cannot be ignored, especially if we understand that even as far back as 1991 the possible revenue from taxes was astronomical: “For 1991, potential tax revenue is estimated to range from 2.55 to 9.09 billion dollars” (Caputo; Ostrom, 1994; p. 475).

Prisons
Anyone truly paying attention to the war on drugs will easily note that many attempts to reduce the amount of drug offenders has not proved successful in the long run. Because of this war on drugs our prisons are severely overcrowded with many non-violent offenders, drug users. And, surprisingly enough, these drug...
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