The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Marijuana legalization aids coffers

By Katie Hudson-Martinez/feature editor

At one time, a proponent of the legalization of marijuana was perceived as a slacker, hanging out on the couch with a bad case of the munchies, but times have changed.

In 2005, Dr. Jeffrey Miron, professor of economics at Harvard University released a report titled The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States.

The report was signed and endorsed by 530 of the nation’s distinguished economists, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and two other Nobel laureates in the field of economy, Dr. George Akerlof and Dr. Vernon Smith.

Detailed in the report are the expenditures involved with enforcing prohibition as well as the lost tax revenue from marijuana sales. The numbers are impressive.

The report estimates that replacing prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save tax payers $7.7 billion annually in costs directly related to the enforcement of prohibition. An additional $6.2 billion could be collected in tax revenue if marijuana were taxed at the same rates as alcohol or tobacco. The result is a total gain of almost $14 billion every year.

With the U.S. facing the largest deficit in its entire history, this idea is something that definitely deserves a second thought.

Prohibition does little to actually deter persons who wish to smoke, and legalization would only take the trade out of the hands of those involved with criminal enterprise and allow the sales to be regulated and taxed.

The same year the report was released, a record 786,545 persons were arrested in the U.S. on marijuana-related charges, according to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report for 2005. This statistic translates to one person every 40 seconds. Of these arrests, 88 percent were for simple possession.

This percentage accounted for more than 42 percent of all drug arrests and exceeded the total number of arrests for all violent crimes combined, including robbery, rape, aggravated assault and murder.

Police officers have arrested more than 8 million Americans in the last decade, deflecting resources and manpower from protecting citizens from more dangerous offenders.

It is not advisable that anyone smoke marijuana, any more than it is advisable to drink liquor or smoke cigarettes. But persons who choose to smoke in the privacy of their own homes should not be criminalized. As far back as the history books go, people have used it, and people will continue to use it despite the best efforts of the government to deter them.

Americans must consider the implications and the reality. This country is, in effect, throwing more than $1 billion down the drain every month in a misguided attempt to force these people to conform.

It doesn’t take an economist to come up with a few ideas about where those funds could be put to better use.

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