A lot. Marijuana prohibition costs enough to put more than 900 new police officers on the streets.
Here’s the numbers from Harvard and Cato scholar Jeffrey A. Miron and marijuana law reform researcher Abhi Sivasailam (via Show-Me Cannabis):
Missouri would save about $90 million in government expenditure and yield roughly $59 million in tax revenue annually. This assumes that marijuana would be taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco and that all other states and the federal government would also legalize.
What could we do with an extra $149 million in the budget?
We could increase funding for mental health, help the disabled, open medical clinics for the poor, or treat marijuana dependency.
We could also cut taxes and pay for Jay Nixon’s private plane.
Nationally, we spend $100 billion a year on the drug war. That’s $11 billion more than sequestration.
What marijuana reform could also do is make a lot of under-utilized people far more productive. You know how hard it is to get a good job with a misdemeanor criminal record for marijuana possession?
Within my dad’s lifetime, we locked people up for possession of beer. Prohibition was an attempt by progressives to perfect human beings, to end social problems, and to control behavior.
It failed miserably, leaving behind corruption in government from Washington DC to Washington state. Prohibition threw people out of work, damaged reputations and lives, and fostered an organized crime network we spend millions fighting.
The war on weed has been no less damaging.
I can’t find a single study that concludes the war on pot saves or money.
So why do we wage it?
I want to hear from you. Do you think marijuana prohibition is worth $149 million?
Now go read my original post on The War on Weed
Then check out The Weednesday Post archives