6/5/2012 5:36 PM ET|
Legal pot could save US billions
The sticky question of costs
What about the costs of a nation on the toke?
Recent studies by Rand contend that legalization in California would do two things:
- Make pot incredibly cheap to make (literally pennies for a joint).
- Increase demand substantially, possibly dramatically. Taxes would help determine prices and demand.
So what does this mean for possible costs to ourselves and to society?
Few reliable estimates exists on the societal costs of pot, says Joel Hay, a professor of pharmaceutical economics and policy in the University of Southern California's School of Pharmacy. Still, Hay is convinced that legalization would be a public-health disaster.
"It is more dangerous than either alcohol or tobacco (and in some ways combines the worst of both) and for those legal drugs the societal costs are more than 10 times the taxes raised," Hay wrote in an email. "And if government tried to raise the taxes enough to cover the societal costs that would further encourage narcotrafficking."
Miron rejected Hay's remarks, saying he "would disagree vigorously" about the societal costs of marijuana and the claim that it's more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. "There is absolutely zero convincing evidence of that," he says.
Would more people smoking send more people into treatment, costing taxpayers and insurers money? It's hard to know. According to a 2010 Rand study of California, "it's unclear whether legalizing marijuana may increase or decrease drug treatment costs" in the state.
Why unclear? More than half of the 32,000 admissions for treatment of marijuana abuse in California in 2009 resulted from criminal-justice referrals, which would drop if legalization were approved, the researchers said. On the other hand, an increase in marijuana use could cause a spike in those who voluntarily seek treatment for marijuana abuse, the researchers said.
Somewhat ironically, it might all come down to booze again. "The overall consequences of marijuana legalization are largely going to depend on how marijuana legalization influences alcohol consumption and patterns of alcohol use," says Kilmer, of Rand's Drug Policy Research Center. "The bottom line is that the evidence is very mixed whether alcohol and marijuana are substitutes or complements" -- that is, whether people tend to use marijuana instead of alcohol or with alcohol, he says.
That's a key point, Kilmer says. "If folks move away from getting drunk and are more likely to get stoned . . . then overall traffic fatalities could go down," because drivers under the influence of alcohol are more likely to crash than those using pot, he says.
That's a huge financial plus for individuals and for society. On the other hand, drinking and smoking pot are a particularly lethal combination when a person gets behind the wheel, Kilmer says.
"Even a small increase in heavy drinking could outweigh any benefits of legalization," he wrote in a recent op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal. "The scientific literature on this is inconclusive."
In any event, if you're looking for a financial savior, even supporters of legalization agree you shouldn't hold your breath (much less inhale). Any benefits would take time.
"Legalizing marijuana is not something that can generate revenues today or tomorrow or even in a year," says NORML's Gieringer. "It really is something that requires changing federal law and, in the end, probably requires changing international treaties. Fixing all of that stuff is a long, drawn-out process."
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.
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
RECENT ARTICLES ON PERSONAL FINANCE
Joe Cantrell says he faces charges after trying to take advantage of the retailer's policy.