California residents will vote in November on whether or not to legalise marijuana. If they vote “yes,” says Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Miron in the interview below, that should only be the beginning.
All drugs should be legalized nationwide, Miron says. Pot, cocaine, LSD, crystal-meth — you name it.
“Legalizing drugs would save roughly $41.3 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. Of these savings, $25.7 billion would accrue to state and local governments, while $15.6 billion would accrue to the federal government,” Miron claims in a recent Cato Institute report he co-authored.
According to their website, “The report also estimates that drug legalization would yield tax revenue of $46.7 billion annually, assuming legal drugs were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco. Approximately $8.7 billion of this revenue would result from legalization of marijuana and $38.0 billion from legalization of other drugs.”
But won’t we become a nation of drug addicts?
No, says Miron. Walk down any city street and you can already buy legal drugs in multiple establishments: Caffeine at Starbucks, nicotine at the supermarket, alcohol at bars and restaurants. And we’re not ALL addicted to all of these drugs.
Our current drug policy doesn’t work, Miron observes. Despite ~$40 billion spent on enforcement and prosecution, drug use is still widespread. Meanwhile, because the products are illegal, they’re dangerous, low-quality, and unregulated, and they generate zero tax revenue.
Legalizing drugs would solve those problems, Miron says. It would help close the budget deficit. And it would eliminate a bizarre double standard, in which Americans are encouraged to drink and smoke themselves to death — while guzzling addictive coffee and tea — but become criminals if they dare to get stoned.
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