Economists Call Current Pot Laws Dopey
By George Anderson
The Nobel Prize winning economist and a founding father of Reagonomics doesn’t smoke marijuana so there’s no question as to whether he inhales or not, but he does think it’s high time (sorry, pun intended) to end laws that make its sale and use illegal.
Prof. Milton Friedman is among 500 economists who have publicly endorsed a Harvard University report, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, that says legalizing it would save states and the federal government $7.7 billion a year while bringing in between $2.4 billion and $6.2 billion in additional tax revenues annually, depending on the rate of the levy.
“There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana,” the economist told Forbes, “$7.7 billion is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven’t even included the harm to young people. It’s absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes.”
“I’ve long been in favor of legalizing all drugs,” he said. “Look at the factual consequences: The harm done and the corruption created by these laws…the costs are one of the lesser evils.”
Prof. Friedman doesn’t believe that legalizing marijuana or any other illicit drug would have any impact on the current federal budget deficit. “Deficits are the only thing that keeps this Congress from spending more” he said. “Republicans are no different from Democrats. Spending is the easiest way to buy votes.”
Moderator’s Comment: Should the retail industry support the legalization of marijuana? If it were legalized, how would the transition be made from the
current black market system to one where product was sold, presumably, in retail stores? –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Milton Friedman: Legalize It! – Forbes.com
- The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition – Marijuana Policy Project