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. 5 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 offenders often do more time in prison than violent offenders. “Many non-violent drug offenders are now serving longer prison sentences than murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals.
It costs taxpayers $30,000 per year to imprison just one non-violent drug offender” (Anonymous Does Prohibition Cause More Harm Than Marijuana? , 2002; hemp_8. shtml). In all honesty the country is spending billions and billions of tax dollars in order “to build new prisons and jails so more and more non-violent drug offenders can be warehoused. Meanwhile, funding for education and other services are being strained” (Anonymous Does Prohibition Cause More Harm Than Marijuana? , 2002; hemp_8. shtml).
The author of this particular article continues and admits that while “Reducing drug abuse is a desirable goal… law enforcement methods used to obtain that goal are counterproductive. Prohibition costs billions to enforce, creates a black market that generates violence and corruption, and makes criminals out of millions of productive and harmless adults. Adult use of alcohol and tobacco is accepted, but adult use of marijuana is considered criminal behavior” (Anonymous Does Prohibition Cause More Harm Than Marijuana? , 2002; hemp_8. shtml).
When we consider the prison system and the amount of money spend in housing non-violent drug offenders, many of which are marijuana users, we must also consider the cost of hunting such “criminals” down. The country spends an incredible amount of money every year following drug users. This is money that could be better spent on truly following violent crime leads and arresting individuals who are truly harmful to our society. Drug Companies In many ways it does not seem right to discuss some of the benefits of the legalization of marijuana without discussing another economic factor that is directly related to keeping it off the legal market.
One of the most powerful, and perhaps least talked about, realities is that which involves the drug companies. One author provides us with informative details when stating that, “Another party interested in keeping marijuana illegal for economic reasons is the pharmaceutical industry” (Anonymous Conflicts: What are the Economic Incentives of Drug Companies? , 2002; Economic_2. html). The author continues by describing how these companies make money: “First, they provide their customers with drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Obtaining approval, though, can be a daunting task.
Drug companies can spend anywhere from 80 to 100 million dollars in the testing and development phase before receiving approval from the FDA. Of course, there is never a guarantee that the FDA will grant approval. These costs, including presumably the calculated risk of a loss, of course, are passed on to customers in the price they pay for these drugs. Drug companies may also apply for patents that protect the development of new drugs. This is another source of wealth for these companies” (Anonymous Conflicts: What are the Economic Incentives of Drug Companies? , 2002; Economic_2. html).
Through keeping marijuana illegal they are the ones who stand a chance of making money, not the rest of the country. With marijuana being illegal they “have the opportunity to develop cannaboids, or drugs that employ the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, which also cause the sensation and feeling a marijuana smoker might experience. However, this requires the companies to go through the rigorous and expensive testing procedures that are required for any drug being offered on the market” (Anonymous Conflicts: What are the Economic Incentives of Drug Companies? , 2002; Economic_2. html).
And, in this we see that while the drug companies may make a great deal of money in involving themselves in this endeavor, we also note that the country will lose a great deal as the drug companies further extract all they can from the economic system of the country. In these respects it seems perhaps quite obvious that if marijuana is not legalized then the cost of keeping it illegal will harm the economy of the country even more. People will continue to be imprisoned for illegal use and possession. The country will still spend billions on enforcing the laws and the drug companies will increase their costs and harm the economy even more.
And, we can, in all honesty, understand the following argument offered by the author of this particular article: “While certainly more research needs to be done in this area, it makes little sense to allow drug companies to control the research process if the result will be the undoing of some of the most important current advantages of marijuana” (Anonymous Conflicts: What are the Economic Incentives of Drug Companies? , 2002; Economic_2. html). Conclusion It becomes incredibly obvious that the reason marijuana is not legal yet, in economic terms, is due to the fact that someone is making money off of the substance.
But, the money it is costing the people of this country is ridiculous. Legal or illegal, someone will make money off of marijuana and it just makes sense that the entire country benefit from the revenue that can be generated from the legalization of marijuana. We complain that there is not enough money for education, we complain that our law enforcement officials are overworked. These are only two areas of concern that could be eased dramatically through the legalization of marijuana. And, these are only two areas which clearly spell economic relief for the country and its people. BIBLIOGRAPHY Anonymous (2002, October).
Does Prohibition Cause More Harm Than Marijuana? At: http://www. cannabis. com/untoldstory/hemp_8. shtml Anonymous (2002, August). Economic Benefits of Legalizing Marijuana Touted. Join Together Online, at: http://news. tobaccofreekids. org/sa/news/summaries/reader/0,1854,553668,00. html Anonymous (2002, October). Health Conflicts: What are the Economic Incentives of Drug Companies? At: http://cyber. law. harvard. edu/evidence99/marijuana/Economic_2. html Caputo, Michael R. ; Ostrom, Brian J. (1994, October). Potential tax revenue from a regulated marijuana market: a meaningful revenue source.
The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, v53 n4, pp. 475(16). Mintus, Sean (2002, September). Legalizing marijuana will spur wide-scale benefits. The Tartan, at: http://www. thetartan. org/97/5/forum/2093. asp Murdock, Deroy; Feder, Don (2001, October). Symposium. (pros and cons of marijuana legalization)(Statistical Data Included). Insight on the News, v17 i37, pp. 40. OUTLINE Introduction Economy in General I. Nevada a good example of legalization can prove economically beneficial A. Billions fo dollars in revenue if legalized II. Perhaps up to $2000 a year spent by each marijuana user in the country III.
Nevada arguing that billions of dollars in taxation fees would benefit the state as well. Prisons I. Non-violent drug offenders tend to spend more time in prison than violent offenders. II. Prohibition costs billions to enforce III. Money spent in hunting drug offenders down could be better spent on violent offenders. Drug Companies I. Drug companies desire that marijuana remain illegal so they can make money. II. Drug companies cost the country a great deal of money researching possibilities. II. Drug companies harm the economy and will continue to increase this damage through marijuana’s illegal status. Conclusion