Recreational drug use can be traced back to the earliest known humans. The practice is pervasive, problematic and rife with moral and religious opposition. In this country, we need only to look back less than 100 years to see the earliest incantation of this debate. Prohibition: “The Noble Experiment” was instituted from 1920 to 1933. A moral high road, which was believed at the time, would cure all of society’s ills. Economically, it was believed that the taxpayers would benefit by less incarcerations, better mental and physical health and a more productive workforce. I would like to assert that in the context of “drugs”, I am speaking only about marijuana. Legalization of harder substances such as heroin, in my opinion, would not be practical due to their deadly toxicity.
Evidence of current taxes on cigarettes provides the basis for the economic benefits of marijuana legalization. For example, the state of Texas recently raised it tax on cigarettes to $1 per pack. This resulted in net revenue of over 1.5 BILLION dollars. That is quite a chunk of change in today’s economic climate. The parallel here is that; the packaging, distribution and sale of marijuana cigarettes-much like tobacco, could generate considerable revenue.
Many studies have concluded that the carcinogens present in cigarettes far exceed that of marijuana. So, from a health standpoint- marijuana is less harmful than already-legal cigarettes. Furthermore, to dictate or infringe upon individual choice is an infringement on personal freedom.
“It is not worthwhile for a law to forbid people from willingly exposing their own bodies to harm by using drugs, any more than by overeating or bungee-jumping. Obesity is a national epidemic, killing millions every year, but the government has no right to regulate how much citizens eat.”
The costs of drug enforcement, litigation and incarceration weigh heavily upon our country’s resources and finances. Just think of all the young people that would not be locked up for getting caught with a personal amount of marijuana.
Critics of the War on Drugs advocate the partial or complete decriminalization of illegal drugs, combined with a system of regulation, as happens with alcohol and prescription drugs. By providing legal supplies of currently illegal drugs the price will fall, leading to a collapse in the illegal drug industry, and a reduction in crimes committed by both drug suppliers and users. They also argue that the reduction in the price will lead to little, if any, growth in drug addiction, due to the inelasticity of demand. Some even state that in a strictly regulated market, drug use may fall overall, by removing the marketing activities of the illegal drug industry.
Studies conducted by think tanks and economists point to the multi-layered financial benefits of marijuana legalization. The group called the National Organization for the Repeal of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has concluded the following: