6/5/2012 5:36 PM ET|
Legal pot could save US billions
Show me the money: Taxing pot
Chopping costs is only part of the equation, though. Harvard's Miron also estimates that state, local and federal governments could collect about $8.7 billion annually in revenue if marijuana was "taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco." (Miron's study, "The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition," was co-authored by Katherine Waldock.)
After Miron's first estimate appeared a few years before, the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group, pointed out that just one year's savings could pay the $7.3 billion tab for all port security measures required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 at 3,150 port facilities around the nation. More than 300 economists, including several Nobel laureates, signed a letter to then-President George W. Bush calling for an open debate about ending marijuana prohibition in favor of a legalized, regulated market.
A combined $17.4 billion a year in revenue and savings from enforcement sounds like a lot. But it's actually fairly modest, once it's split among 50 states and the federal government, says Miron, who cautions that his figures are "ballpark estimates." "It's hardly a solution to the world's fiscal woes," he says.
Consider Oakland's reefer experience. The Bay Area city, like many cities nationwide, has been struggling. "We've had to cut down on things," says David McPherson, Oakland's chief administrator for revenue. Roads aren't getting repaved as often. Municipal computers aren't getting replaced. City worker unions not long ago had to contribute $40 million to $50 million in givebacks in furloughs and other sacrifices.
But medical marijuana has been one bright spot. Over eight years, the city's tax on marijuana -- today it's $50 on every $1,000 sold -- has brought in "just shy of $3.4 million" over eight years, says McPherson.
"Our general fund revenue is about $420 million, so when you look at the big picture, it's not a lot," he says. But that money each year "keeps a library open a little longer; it picks up trash in a park." In other words, in this day and age, every little bit helps.
And there are indirect benefits, too, McPherson says: "The industry is also employing accountants, security guards, lawyers, renting buildings -- and we have a tax rate on commercial landlords, so there's the benefits of that." Not long ago, the Oakland City Council agreed to double the number of dispensaries it licenses, to eight.
(In 2010, the council decided against a plan to create several large marijuana-growing operations in the city -- but not until state and federal authorities warned that the private ventures would run afoul of California and U.S. laws.)
Some proponents imagine legalization creating a host of spinoff companies and associated businesses that would also boost the economy. In a 2009 study, Dale Gieringer, the director of advocacy group California NORML, who has studied the impacts of legalization, wrote: "A legal market would generate additional benefits in the form of tourism and spinoff industries, such as coffee shops, paraphernalia and industrial hemp. A comparable example would be California's wine industry, which generates $51.8 billion in economic activity, according to the Wine Institute."
Some states might encourage marijuana tourism. "You could have pot resorts, bed and breakfasts," Gieringer said in an interview. Call them wake 'n' bakes.
But Miron is dubious that legalization would create a huge surge of jobs and businesses. After all, "the people who work in the pot economy currently have jobs," he says -- they're just not aboveboard. As for Amsterdam-like coffee shops? Miron doubts that thousands would flourish across the land. Or if they do, "it's just going to replace Starbucks."
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
my wife has cancer and the chemo drugs are really bad for her body
they gave her oxycotton for the pain she didnt like it and i didnt either it made her really mean
so i got some pot and made brownies and i never seen anything like it
she throwed all the pill meds away after she had brownies it helped with pain and her belly
she is eating again shes been getting up doing things again i really wish they would do something
about it not only is it good medicine but it would throw mexico for a loop them drug lords would have a fit legalize it it is really senseless not to
Legalizing marijuana is a no brainer.
It reduces the cost of jails (Up to 1/3 of NJ jails [State and County facilities] is "pot" related), and eases over-crowding.
It is far safer to use than alcohol, and not as harmful as cigarettes. It actually has some real health benefits.
It reduces waste of the police officer's time (instead of "busting" for possession of "weed", the officer could be preventing a rape or robbery).
It creates a new tax base, and enhances some current ones.
Laws similar to alcohol and cigarette use can be made.
It is NOT a "gateway" drug like alcohol is. A drunk person is far more likely to try other drugs than a "stoned" person.
I do not like weed. I have used it in the past, but stopped years ago because I do not like the "high". Just because I personally don't like it, I don't see any logical reason to keep it illegal.
Time for stoners to get a bit of American freedom, the only thing they have been getting is the shaft in the form of hefty fines, shaming, and the authorities looking down on them.
Criminals get away with the theft of billions, but a young man with a baggie gets impaled at the main plaza and his mug shot is posted all over town.
Time for stoners to get a bit of the right of way...
One tablespoon of pot oil a day stops my arthritis pain and also made my wife's terminal cancer pain tolerable until the last week when we gave her morphine. She died at home on her 75th birthday. God bless her.
Neither of us got high or had the 'munchies' so i am all for legalizing it.
I don't know about "children", but ignorance definitely plays a part in this. Let's look at the facts, and legalize. Amendment 64!
Why is smoking the only option discussed. Eating it as a food is the way to go. It is actually good for you. Hemp oil is better than even flax seed oil.
There's no need to treat marijuana users. I'm a former user and one day, I just decided to up and quit. No fuss, no muss. I smoked through college and for about a decade after, nearly daily. It never affected my ability to go about my daily tasks and I've been gainfully employed (software engineer) with the same company since my junior year in college.
I have many friends that smoke cigarettes that wish they could just quit without any difficulty. Marijuana, while psychologically addictive, is just not physically addictive. Anything can be psychologically addictive.
If it is a long drawn out process to decriminalize or legalize, then get started now. Prohibition is a wa$te of revenues, better spent elsewhere. There will be no giant rush of eager folks running out to find out what pot smoking is all about. Those that smoke will continue and those that dont wont. We need to stop making criminals out of those who do.
Those who say use will go up if its legalize are wrong everyone who wants to smoke pot does except a very small number who are drug tested for work and are afraid to lose their jobs. Most people who have drug testing at work and want to smoke just take their chances. The thing they don't talk about is if pot were legal is that the use of other harder drugs will go down because the dealers of pot tend to live in the same vicinity as the dealers of hard drugs so when you take the criminal element out of the weed trade you make it harder for the hard drug dealers to push their products. Most young pot smokers only try other things when they can't find any weed. If they can get weed at the stores or in their gardens they'll be far less likely to ever even try coke or meth or heroin.
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