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Your Take: Legalize Marijuana?

Posted By Jim On 11/16/2012 @ 7:03 am In Your Take | 38 Comments

Now that we’re past election season and all the fun Your Takes associated with that, I wanted to revisit an NPR piece on six policies economists love but politicians hate [3]. Several of the six policies have made appearances on a Your Take but I wanted to jump to the juicy one next – should we be legalizing marijuana? Medicinal marijuana is already legal (or effectively decriminalized) in nineteen states [4]. As it stands right now, the federal government has cannabis as a Schedule I drug – the same classification as heroin and LSD.

Here’s the policy that economists would love:

Six: Legalize marijuana. Stop spending so much trying to put pot users and dealers in jail — it costs a lot of money to catch them, prosecute them, and then put them up in jail. Criminalizing drugs also drives drug prices up, making gang leaders rich.

The argument is that marijuana is not as dangerous as other drugs, certainly not as dangerous as heroin and LSD. The money we currently spend on drug law enforcement could be used for other purposes. We would be able to generate more tax revenue if we taxed the sale of marijuana and we’d also be able to make it safer by regulating it, as we do with nicotine. Lastly, with it being legal, it would be cheaper and it would take all the criminality out of the economics. Cheaper marijuana means lower profits for dealers and less motivation for the crimes that are associated with it.

While nothing is ever as simple as that, I think legalizing it (especially when cigarettes are legal) is a sensible idea.

What do you think?

(Photo: caveman_02223 [5])


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[3] six policies economists love but politicians hate: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/07/19/157047211/six-policies-economists-love-and-politicians-hate

[4] nineteen states: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_history_of_cannabis_in_the_United_States

[5] caveman_02223: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caveman_92223/3410000930/sizes/s/

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