Could Marijuana Legalization Balance the Budget?


May 26th, 2009 – Did you hear the story on NPR last week about the marijuana farms that are taking root on public lands? I was floored when I heard that a pot farm was busted in Yosemite National Park, and that park rangers found over 7000 marijuana plants tucked away in the forest. That’s a lot of reefer, ya’ll!

The Yosemite pot farm is just the tip of the iceberg, though. Marijuana sales represent a $113 billion a year industry, making it America’s largest cash crop. Under the US’s current drug laws, that money is all traded on the black market, and the government receives zero tax revenue from marijuana sales. In our current state of economic decline, it’s time to start questioning the efficacy of America’s failed drug policy.

The War on Pot is a complete waste of government tax dollars.

The societal costs of propagandizing against marijuana and marijuana law reform, funding anti-marijuana ’science’, interdicting marijuana, eradicating domestically grown marijuana and industrial hemp, law enforcement, prosecuting and incarcerating marijuana smokers costs U.S. taxpayers in excess of $12 billion annually.

Of the many numerous arguments that can be advanced by law reformers and advocacy groups like NORML, is the self-evident truth that marijuana prohibition, an utterly failed public policy, costs taxpayers too much and delivers few discernible social benefits.

Medical marijuana sales already generate $100 million in sales taxes for the state of California. Which is why the California legislature is currently debating whether it will legalize marijuana for recreational use in order to help alleviate the state’s massive budget deficit. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, “A fiscal analysis of this proposal by the State Board of Equalization estimates that AB 390 could raise more than $1.3 billion yearly in tax revenue for the state of California.” NORML estimates that the federal government could raise nearly $14 billion annually if it were to legalize and regulate marijuana the way that it regulates alcohol and tobacco.

“America is in the midst of an economic recession,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Taxing and regulating marijuana in a manner like alcohol – with state-licensed sales and age restrictions – would redirect criminal justice costs toward more serious crimes, raise tax revenue, and greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the involvement of drug cartels in the illicit marijuana trade.”

If marijuana could help stimulate the economy, why is it illegal? A recent episode of “Family Guy” actually sums it all up quite nicely.

‘Marijuana wasn’t always illegal. In fact, there were laws on the books in the early days of the American Republic that required farmers to grow hemp for industrial purposes. Cannabis isn’t just good for smoking. It’s great for making paper, rope, cloth, essential oils, and other products. But the tobacco, cotton, and timber industries stand to lose if hemp is legalized again. And the pharmaceutical industry is opposed to hemp legalization since any gardener can grow a marijuana plant. However, with the massive economic shortfall, it’s time to put the nation’s best interest ahead of corporate profits. Marijuana legalization could stimulate job creation, and the money that is being wasted to fight marijuana could be diverted to fight truly dangerous drugs, like crystal meth.’

What’s your opinion? Are you a part of the 52% of Americans who support marijuana legalization? Or do you think it should remain illegal? Source.


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