We have all heard the classic argument. Marijuana could save the government a ton of money if it were legalized primarily in the savings from having not to enforce marijuana laws, not to mention the additional income that could be made from government taxation on the product. But, while this discussion is usually reserved for a stoned debate, 300 noted economists have released a study that backs all of this up, and big time.
The Huffington Post reports that 300 economists, which includes 3 Noble Laureates, “have signed a petition calling attention to the findings of a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco.”
The petition does not directly call for an end to marijuana prohibition, but, rather, suggests that both sides begin an “open and honest debate” about the current state of pot prohibition and whether it is actually causing any benefits.
In addition, as the article points out, with a $1.5 trillion budget deficit, the government is forced to choose between cutting programs and raising taxes as a way to make ends meet, while ending marijuana prohibition seems like a way to ease a small part of this financial need without the cuts or taxes.
A recent article in Businessweek takes this 13.7 billion figure and trumps it, stating that “based on the amount of money he thinks it would take to produce and market legal marijuana, combined with an estimate of marijuana consumers, (Stephen) Easton guesses that legalizing the drug could bring in $45 to $100 billion per year.” At the high end of that estimate, you are beginning to knock out a large portion of the budget deficit.
Do you think that legalizing marijuana would help the U.S. with their financial burdens? What other ways do you think the government can reduce their deficit?