What Can You Buy with a Trillion Dollars? Marijuana Prohibition’s Failed Economics


December 10, 2010 – The drug war has cost Americans over one trillion tax dollars, of that more money has been spent on marijuana crimes than any other drug including methamphetamine, heroin, or cocaine. The lost productivity of the millions of working tax payers devastated, and rendered unemployable, after being convicted of a marijuana crime is costing us billions more. Many who were economic assets have now become economic liabilities of the state — sometimes for life. When the economics and crime considerations created by prohibition are calculated, the true cost of the war on marijuana is astronomical.

Last year over 700,000 Americans were prosecuted for marijuana crimes in the United States, the vast majority for possession. Most of the Americans arrested for marijuana have jobs, pay taxes, and function well in society. After being convicted, many can no longer find good jobs or contribute to the economy or society in the ways they could have. What do you think they will do when faced with survival? Many will be forced onto the rolls of social programs, and others will turn to crime. The war on marijuana is actually creating more of the very problems (and criminals) Americans are so concerned about. Give an American a good job and some hope, and you will find you have less crime, fewer people on public assistance, and you will expand your tax base. It really is not that hard to understand.

The war on marijuana is a civil war with one faction imposing its will at gun point and great cost on the other. You do not have to approve of drug use, to see this is worse than the marijuana. There is more marijuana, it is stronger, and it is cheaper than ever. Furthermore, anyone — even kids — can get it right now. That is the reality of marijuana prohibition. Regulation, and honest education is better.

What have you got for your trillion dollars? For 10% of what it now costs in tax dollars to wage the war on marijuana, you could get a much better result. When you add the benefit of productive Americans instead of economic liabilities, I believe you will get more than your 10% investment back, in taxes and consumer spending.

If drugs were legal would you run out and do them? Most people would not. People who want to use drugs can get them very easily right now

Drug-fueled violence is escalating around the world, Mexico being a prime example. The drug war has made a health issue into a huge criminal problem. We have over 2 million Americans in prison now, that is 6 times the world median. We have 5% of the world’s population with 25% of the world’s prisoners. A great many are non violent drug offenders. People who use marijuana do not belong in prison and we can not afford to put them there.

No one has ever died from an overdose of Marijuana. Alcohol related disease killed 150,000 Americans last year, and tobacco 450,000. Contrast that to marijuana which is actually used to treat many illnesses. Marijuana is used medically in fourteen states, and the District of Columbia. Even the federal government has a medical marijuana program. The destructiveness of current policy is obvious, spending countless billions for that policy is something Americans simply can no longer afford, particularly when it just doesn’t work.

Open your eyes and your mind, help unite Americans. Marijuana prohibition is an ongoing problem, has failed, and is destructive to Americans and America. If you see marijuana as a problem it is clearly a health problem not a criminal one. Help your brother instead of destroying him — you may just need him and you can help put the country back on the economic track needed today more than ever.

Make no mistake: prohibition is profit driven, but not just for dealers and organized crime. The prison industrial complex, the pharmaceutical industry and law enforcement all depend on the drug war. They reap billions of dollars from it, money that would be better spent on infrastructure and education. Politicians cannot throw enough of your money away on the war against marijuana. This has been going on for so long that the raw data is there for all to see. The numbers and results speak for themselves.

Let me say it again: what have you got for your trillion dollars?…any questions?

For more on the economic impacts of marijuana prohibition also see:

Harvard Economist on why marijuana should be legalized:

Legal Pot Means Big Savings on Law Enforcement


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