Your plans to celebrate 4/20 this Friday could actually make the government some money, if only such activities were legal. That’s according to a bunch of economists, and some prominent ones too.
More than 300 economists, including three nobel laureates, have signed a petition calling attention to the findings of a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which suggests that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by not having to enforce the current prohibition on the drug. The report added that legalization would save an additional $6 billion per year if the government taxed marijuana at rates similar to alcohol and tobacco.
It’s time to get real and stop criminalizing marijuana usage. When even the nutty Pat Robertson is calling for legalization, we need to admit this “war on drugs” has only resulted in massive waste of resources and prisons full of non-violent potheads.
Nearly a million people are arrested on marijuana-related charges per year, most of them for simple possession, not for distribution. Over 50% of drug-arrests are related to marijuana, not the more destructive and addictive drugs. Alcohol-related crimes and vehicular deaths often result in less prison-time than the time served by someone who is found with an ounce of weed in his pocket. Most of us know without a doubt that alcohol is a far more destructive and debilitating drug than marijuana.
It is particularly cruel to deny the benefits of pot to victims of cancer and other diseases. Marijuana helps stimulate appetite and reduces nausea in cancer and AIDS patients. It also reduces intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma and eases symptoms related to certain neurological disorders. Pot is also an effective pain-relief drug, and vastly less addictive than the most popular painkillers. Indeed, most scientists agree that it isn’t addictive at all. Drug companies have formulated synthetic THC, but these drugs pale in comparison when compared to the efficacy and safety of the real thing.
Economists say we could also save a lot of money by decriminalizing marijuana. So what’s stopping us? Drug companies are certainly against legalization, as they stand to make a bundle from their synthetic (less-effective) compounds. Decades of misinformation by the government has been effective in the war against pot, but most people know that a pothead is usually only dangerous to your stash of Funions. We’ve even criminalized hemp, a non-psychoactive strain of weed that has about a million uses that could solve a lot of the problems we face today, both in the manufacturing sector and in agriculture. But oh well, common-sense and fiscal sanity is hardly ever a motivating force when it comes to cannabis. We can alleviate prison-overcrowding, decrease spending, and help sick people by decriminalizing a natural substance. Libertarians, Pat Robertson, and millions of potheads agree, legalize it!