A Spate of Economic Reports Support Marijuana Legalization

“There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana… 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.”

—Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman (2005)

An important new vein of discussion has begun bubbling up the body politic with respect to reforming marijuana laws, a topical thrust of intellectual discussion potentially capable of ending America’s long, expensive and misguided epoch of marijuana prohibition. The federal government’s efforts to maintain this untenable status quo are largely predicated on fear-mongering and pseudoscience, so it comes as no surprise that professional prohibitionists—both in and out of government—are alarmed by the numerous economists who have recently come out in opposition to America’s current approach to marijuana, and proposed a system of taxes and regulations instead of prohibition.

In the last several years a number of credible economic reports and budgetary analyses have been published, casting a much-needed critical light on the economic impact of prohibition politics. Listed below are a few examples of recent reports that call into question the government’s expenditures enforcing marijuana laws, and offer up alternatives to prohibition:

Jeffrey Miron, Ph.D.
prohibitioncosts.org

Jon Gettman, Ph.D.
norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6411

James Austin, Ph.D.
norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6695

Dale Gieringer, Ph.D.
norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=4411

Forbes Profiles Canada’s Pot Biz forbes.com/free_forbes/2003/1110/146.html

Last June, the Marijuana Policy Project published a letter signed by more than 500 economists, including three Nobel Prize winners in economics, calling for an end to marijuana prohibition
(prohibitioncosts.org).

And in April, the conservative, pro-business Washington, DC think tank, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), former employer of Vice President Dick Cheney, hosted a thoughtful discussion and analysis of US drug policy. Transcripts and video of this informative debate, featuring Reason magazine’s Jacob Sullum, University of Maryland’s Peter Reuter and Pepperdine’s James Q. Wilson, are available at: aei.org/events/eventID.1262,filter.all/event_detail.asp

NORML heartily welcomes this new front in the war on marijuana, as careful consideration of the failed economics of marijuana prohibition does not bode well for the longevity of America’s longest war, the war on marijuana consumers.

Allen St. Pierre is the Executive Director of NORML, norml.org, 888-67-NORML.