Pubdate: Sat, 22 Oct 2005
Source: Coeur D'Alene Press (ID)
Copyright: 2005 Coeur d'Alene Press
Author: Scott Metcalf
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project ( )
Cited: The report, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana 


Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and
regulation similar to that used for alcoholic beverages would produce
combined savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14
billion per year -- finds a June 2005 report by Dr. Jeffrey Miron,
visiting professor of economics at Harvard University.

The report has been endorsed by more than 530 distinguished
economists, who have signed an open letter to President Bush and other
public officials calling for "an open and honest debate about
marijuana prohibition," adding, "We believe such a debate will favor a
regime in which marijuana is legal, but taxed and regulated like other

Chief among the endorsing economists are three Nobel Laureates in
economics: Dr. Milton Friedman, Hoover Institute, Dr. George Akerlof,
University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Vernon Smith, George
Mason University.

Dr. Miron's paper, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana
Prohibition," concludes:

* Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation
would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on
prohibition enforcement -- $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3
billion at the state and local levels.

* Revenue from taxation of marijuana sales would range from $2.4
billion per year -- if marijuana were taxed like ordinary consumer
goods -- to $6.2 billion, if it were taxed like alcohol or tobacco.

These impacts are considerable, according to the Marijuana policy
project in Washington, D.C. For example, $14 billion in annual
combined annual savings and revenues would cover the securing of all
"loose nukes" in the former Soviet Union (estimated by former
Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb at $30 billion) in less
than three years. Just one year's savings would cover the full cost of
anti-terrorism port security measures required by the Maritime
Transportation Security Act of 2002. The Coast Guard has estimated
these costs at $7.3 billion total, covering 3,150 port facilities and
9,200 vessels.

"As Milton Friedman and over 500 economists have now said, it's time
for a serious debate about whether marijuana prohibition makes any
sense," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy
Project in D.C. "We know that prohibition hasn't kept marijuana away
from kids, since year after year, 85 percent of high school seniors
tell government survey-takers that marijuana is "easy to get."

Conservatives, especially, are beginning to ask whether we're getting
our money's worth or simply throwing away billions of tax dollars that
might be used to protect America from real threats like those
unsecured Soviet-era nukes. We could save a lot of money if we would
put an end to prohibition, not to mention the lives we would save
regulating marijuana and be able to keep it out of our kid's hands.

If we were to look to our higher power, we would find the answer
whether we really need a $50 million jail expansion.

Scott Metcalf
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake