500 Economists Say “Legalize Pot!”

From Forbes:

A founding father of the Reagan Revolution has put his John Hancock on a pro-pot report.

Milton Friedman leads a list of more than 500 economists from around the U.S. who today will publicly endorse a Harvard University economist’s report on the costs of marijuana prohibition and the potential revenue gains from the U.S. government instead legalizing it and taxing its sale. Ending prohibition enforcement would save $7.7 billion in combined state and federal spending, the report says, while taxation would yield up to $6.2 billion a year.

The report, “The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” (available at www.prohibitioncosts.org) was written by Jeffrey A. Miron, a professor at Harvard , and largely paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a Washington, D.C., group advocating the review and liberalization of marijuana laws. …

“There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana,” the economist says, “$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 wrote a term paper for an Econ II class decades ago that said the same thing. I got an A.

But does anyone think that this will really change anything?

The report will likely not sway all minds. The White House Office of Drug Control Policy recently published an analysis of marijuana incarceration that states that “most people in prison for marijuana are violent criminals, repeat offenders, traffickers or all of the above.”

I doubt that this will even set off any serious debate given the mindset of those driving the War on Drugs, but it should. Check out the War on Drugs Clock. It currently shows that over $21 billion has been spent so far this year and that over 300,000 people have been arrested on marijuana-related charges.

Hmmm . . . my opposition to the larger War on Drugs must be related to the fact that I’m a Neolibertarian and not a Republican. After all, Cato is against it.

Posted June 2nd, 2005 Filed in War on Drugs