Legalize Marijuana for Tax Revenue

Governments (such as those of the U.S. and Canada) should allow the sale of marijuana for recreational use in order to collect the tax. Pro or con?

Pro: Fund Crime—or Taxes?

To understand the future, sometimes we have to look in the rearview mirror. The current prohibition on marijuana consumption exactly parallels the 1920s alcohol prohibition.

Every year, a widely consumed illegal substance makes potential criminals of millions and actual criminals of hundreds of thousands. And like booze during Prohibition, this substance, marijuana, is the easy revenue of organized crime, contributing tens of billions of dollars to growers, who commit a variety of bad acts both at home and abroad.

How much money is made from this single illegal substance? In fairness, nobody knows for sure. "Illegal" means that hard data are hard to come by. However, we do know that there are anywhere from 25 million to 60 million U.S. consumers (depending on how likely survey respondents are to tell the whole truth), and at an average cost of $5 per cigarette, factoring in one per day for each user, total spending on marijuana may add up to $45 billion to $110 billion a year.

What about possible tax revenue? From Canada we’ve learned that the production cost of (government-sponsored) marijuana is roughly 33¢ a gram. Currently, U.S. marijuana consumers pay at least $10 per gram retail for illegal marijuana. If the cost of retailing and distribution is the same as for legal tobacco cigarettes, about 10¢ a gram, then selling the (legal) product at exactly the same prices as on the street today ($10 per gram) could raise $40 billion to $100 billion in new revenue. Not chump change. Government would simply be transferring revenue from organized crime to the public purse.

It is a proven technology. We did it in 1933 when Prohibition ended. Should we get back to the future?

Con: A False Economy

Gee, how about collecting taxes from legalized marijuana as a way of helping to deal with the deficit? Sounds great. Doesn’t work.

There are about 170 million users of alcohol in the U.S. and 16 million users of marijuana. This 10-to-1 ratio is because alcohol is legal and marijuana is not. If we legalize marijuana, everyone (even anti-prohibitionists) agrees we will have far more users. Ooooh, just think of all that revenue. Except we already have a working model for a legal intoxicant we collect taxes for. Let’s see how well that works:

The latest studies show that the U.S. collects about $8 billion yearly in taxes from alcohol. The problem is, the total cost to the U.S. in 2008 due to alcohol-related problems was $185 billion, and the government pays about 38% of that cost (about $72 billion), all due to consequences of alcohol consumption, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcholism. For every dollar the government collects in alcohol taxes, it expends about $9 (for such things as Medicare and Medicaid treatment for alcohol-related health troubles, long-term rehabilitation treatment, unemployment costs, and Welfare). Does that seem like a model for emulation?

The legalization of alcohol is grandfathered in, and it is unlikely that major changes will be made. The last thing we should do is replicate this irrational business model. True, even though studies show both drugs are similar, many believe alcohol is worse. But even if we only see half the damages with marijuana, we cannot ignore the math: $4.50 for every $1 we collect is not a good business model.

Opinions and conclusions expressed in the BusinessWeek Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Reader Comments

Damian

Bob, are you equating the socio-economic cost of marijuana use to that of alcahol abuse? If so, from what data did you reach this conclusion? I believe you're comparing a pin prick to the finger to an icepick in the eye.

Joseph

Nice try.

Why would you attempt to draw parallels between the economic effects of ending prohibition of marijuana, to the huge industry that is alcohol sales? Your clearly intelligent enough to know that this is deceit through omission.

The effects of alcohol are in no way similar to marijuana. I'm not sure where you are getting your $185 billion dollar cost figure, but I'm sure whatever part is based in reality includes the massive destruction that alcohol does to the body, on top of the massive problems it creates for those under its influence.

Nobody gets high and beats their spouse and children. Nobody loses their kidneys, a pancreas, or a liver, no matter how much cannabis they consume. And now studies are conclusive that cannabis smoke is non-carcinogenic. There is no such thing as a pot-o-holic. Cannabis does not create any physiological addiction. You know this as well as I do, which reveals your social bias on this subject and the real reason you wrote this article.

Your numbers also don't take into account the huge costs to our society and to societies around the world of prohibition.

Last, nobody that I have ever heard speak on behalf of ending cannabis prohibition believes that we would see massive increases in use. In fact, we believe the opposite, that legalization will lead to a reduction in use as resources are moved toward the scientifically proven most effective way to reduce use, voluntary treatment.

Of course, I may be wrong about this if cannabis producers and distributors are given the wide freedom to advertise the way the alcohol producers and distributors are. No drug should be advertised anywhere at anytime. Period.

Oh yeah.

Prohibition was repealed because it was a massive failure. I don't know what being grand-fathered in has to do with that.

Bryan Horner

After weighing both pros and cons, I have to go with the pro side. Just for the simple matter of demand for the illegal product that the consumers will smoke up without paying taxes, and the revenue goes under the table away from the government coffers that would have to pay for health cost anyway.

It is far better to have some revenue from taxes than none at all to pay for medical expenses. Prohibition just does not work. Might as well have it regulated to have a safer and cleaner product than illegal and maybe toxic marijuana and bathtub gin to go with it.

Ken Stremsky

The United States of America, Mexico, and many other countries should legalize, regulate, and tax the sale of marijuana, heroin, and cocaine for people who are at least 18 years old.

Mexico might have a lot fewer problems dealing with illegal drug dealers. Fewer Mexican soldiers and Mexican police officers might be killed.

If marijuana, heroin, and cocaine are legalized, regulated, and taxed for people who are at least 18 years old, the United States of America might be less likely to have the types of problems Mexico is experiencing.

State governments might be able to save a lot of money jailing nonviolent drug offenders if most nonviolent drug offenders are released from prison.

Marijuana may be a safer and more effective medication for many cancer patients than many prescription drugs that have been known to kill people.

The United States of America should allow farmers in Afghanistan to grow opium and sell it to us and others. The United States of America might have more friends in Afghanistan and our soldiers might be a lot safer. Terrorists might obtain less profits from their opium.

Farmers in the United States of America should be able to grow hemp and make many products from it such as ropes, sneakers, clothing, food, paper, and other things.

I recommend people read

"Obama Has the Chance To Be Another FDR--He Can End the Era of Marijuana Prohibition" by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman at

http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/120365

I discuss reducing poverty on our planet and dealing with the financial crisis on http://sites.google.com/site/kenstremsky/Home/global-thinking-expanded

Bob is an idiot

Bob is pulling facts out of his ass and they are worth anything. Is this really the best argument you prohibitionists can come up with? Seriously? Bob, how about you actually do some research on the topic before you start putting facts onto a paper and call it persuasive. Bob, you sir, fail at your profession.

Friends of Ours

There may be good reasons for legalizing some or all drugs, and in a libertarian vacuum perhaps there is a compelling case that individuals should be free to ingest whatever poisons their mind and bodies desire provided that the government is not required to pick up the costs from the inevitable wreckage in their addicted lives. However, the notion that legalization will remove the involvement of the drug cartels and other organized crime groups simply is preposterous.

The fact is that not only did the repeal of Prohibition fail to eliminate the Mafia in America but it failed even to eliminate the role of the Mafia in the liquor business. For decades after Prohibition organized crime groups controlled neighborhood bars, liquor distributors and licensing boards. Indeed, just last month federal prosecutors in New York City indicted several members and associates of the Genovese crime family for allegedly taking "an ownership interest in a Manhattan bar after its owner could not keep up with weekly interest payments on a series of loans totaling approximately $100,000," and "transporting across state lines eighteen cases of premium vodka that they understood to be stolen." Moreover, from the 1930s through the 1980s there were violent struggles involving murders and arson within and among the Mafia families in American cities for control of the liquor and bar businesses which further provide opportunities for illicit money laundering, drug distribution and profit skimming operations.

The idea that the cartels voluntarily will abandon their lucrative distribution networks and supply lines if drugs become legalized flies in the face of economic reality. Indeed, if anything, the businesses which the drug cartels already have established will become more valuable now that the risks associated with their previous illegality have been removed, and supply is ramped up to meet increasing demand. The men behind the drug cartels are violent, and they will resort to murder to enforce their share of the newly-legalized market just like the mobsters did following the repeal of Prohibition. Indeed, even in the waste carting industry, which always was legal, the Mafia has maintained an entrenched role, and federal prosecutors still are breaking up so-called "property rights" schemes which include the use of mob muscle and political corruption to enforce respective markets.

How violent organized crime will disappear from the market never is addressed by the proponents for drug legalization, and this failure illustrates the naive ignorance of their position.

ThereRnoCons

The only cons to legal marijuana would be an annoying increase in Hacky Sac playing. There is no logical argument to keeping marijuana illegal. The effects of alcohol on the body and psyche and the effects of marijuana on the body and psyche aren't comparable. I would wager that a fraction of a percent of marijuana user commit a violent crime after its consumption. How many violent crimes in the USA are related to alcohol consumption? How many rapes on college campuses each year are related to alcohol consumption? How many murders are committed by someone who consumed alcohol? Relate the same numbers to people under the influence of marijuana. The numbers won't even be comparable. Like I said already, there is no logical conclusion as to why it should be illegal.

Damian Joseph

FYI, the Damian Joseph above is not the same as the one who writes for BW. I know because that Damian is me.

Damian

There is no Damian Joseph above, aside from you. There is a "Damian" who is me, and a Joseph who responded second. Nice to have you in the conversation though, and "FYI", never heard of ya.

Mainer Chick73

We should legalize and tax it and treat it like alcohol. Part of the $185 billion on alcohol related expenses? Some because of death. No one ever died from smoking too much, maybe ate too much.

How much did and do we spend locking people up for it? There are some responsible people who socially drink. This can and could be close to the same.

Oh, it would probably help with the violence and drug cartel issues too. In addition 98% of the entire plant can be used. So, yeah--let's treat like alcohol and tax it.

Jeremy

Bob made a glaring omission with regard to government expenses that would plummet if (and when) marijuana is legalized: incarceration and the justice system.

random

Here's a little question: Has Stutman ever wondered why medical costs are being combined with welfare, unemployment, and other government programs and how exactly was the anti-alcohol think tank able to pin exactly what unemployment checks and Medicaid payments were issued to people suffering from alcohol-related problems?

Probably not. His company benefits from people being afraid that employees are out smoking pot and drinking their lives away. Any statistic that lets him convince clients to hire his company so he can ship off suspected substance abusers to rehab for a fee is a good statistic. Doesn't matter how skewed or how grossly inaccurate it might be. As long as it's scary.

When he was a DEA agent, the government routinely scared people about marijuana overdosing (there's no known case of this ever happening) and "crack babies" (shown to be an urban legend) because they thought scaring people stops them from doing things they don't want them to do. Stutman is simply doing what he was taught to do at the DEA.

J. Smikens

Moot issue, president said absolutely not when answering questions this morning at today's live Internet town hall meeting.

Dante

A better solution would be for the government to start selling poisoned dope. Killing off all the dope heads does great things for the tax base as expenses for enforcement, medical care, welfare, environmental cleanup of dope farms on public land, et al, will be greatly reduced. It will also do the human genome a whole lot of good. Because these dopeheads spawn like roaches.

Strategery

There is a good argument for the government to grow and distribute marijuana, citing potentially huge revenue. The problem is, and the real reason that MJ is illegal is that it grows like a weed (hence the name). If pot were legal, the majority of people who smoked it would have their own 'herb' garden, depriving the government of tax revenue.

Haseeb

So I'm assuming you wrote this article in disagreement with the stereotypical weed lies...that it makes you useless and stupid. I say that because you said weed being legal and taxed won't work because the expenses that will come with it will outweigh profit (similar to your example with alcohol). So my challenge to you and every other idiot that says this is to find one story where someone smoked marijuana and decided to commit a crime like rape or murder.

Brad

Strategery--
I honestly don't think that "the majority of people who smoked it would have their own 'herb' garden." After all, we are Americans. Americans are notoriously lazy and will opt for convenience 9 times out of 10. I can honestly say I would rather go down to the store and pick out exactly what I want, choosing the flavor, color, concentration, whether or not it's edible, or in the form of a lip balm or spray. I could grow my own vegetables too, but I don't. I would even continue to pay street price. Why? Because I'm accustomed to it. It's for the same reason people eventually started to get used to paying $4 a gallon for gas.

Singalbabe

Three big, giant cheers for Eric Holder! Would you also please release all persons who because of "holy herb" are being presently held, or are in, or about to be, jailed and for this victimless "crime" of smoking, trading, or bartering God's gift to us humans on earth.

robinbobbin

Dante, I am very disturbed by your comments. I am assuming that you must be a former dopehead to know the mating rituals of such an individual. Otherwise, you are just being mean spirited and ignorant.

Minotaur

As some have said, it is true some people need some education on the topic of Marijuana. It is classified as a lower graded drug than Alcohol, because it doesn't cause anywhere near as much damage. Just read any of the studies that have been done on it, that have not been done by any US Government sponsored organizations. You shall have a hard time trying to find anything evil about it, but the AMA does try hard with it's propaganda. But as we know, that is just propaganda and you shouldn't believe in those so called lies from the mouths of politicians. It's like believing that All Gore knows everything about the science of Global Warming and is an expert on the matter.

To see whom is really against legalizing it (besides the brainwashed), we should look at who shall suffer the most, criminals and corrupted government officials! As for criminals still controlling the market when it is legalized. It's not going to happen, free enterprise shall prevail with the backing of the law on it's side. For a good example of what would happen to society and how it would transform, look at the Netherlands.

Education is the key, ignorance is not as we have all witnessed. Also why shall Marijuana be different from Alcohol as far as how people acquire it? We have Home Brew kits available everywhere these days, but people still go and purchase alcohol.

Moot issue? Obama has changed his mind on everything he has promised in the past, why should he change now? There are many many more troops being sent overseas these days and the torture in Guantanamo Bay is a lot worse.

DaveL

George W Bush certainly knew the truth about marijuana; he had his head deep in the bong and the glass plate. Yet he let hundreds of thousands of pot smokers languish in U.S. jails for what he did every day. Barack knows the secret also, that alcohol is 100x more dangerous than pot. But politically it is suicide to suggest legalizing or decriminalizing it. Much better than to lock up all these people. Forget about the dollars and cents. In this land of freedom we lock up people for long sentences for things that only affect themselves.

But the drug laws do what they were originally conceived for - to crack down on minorities - mostly Mexicans in the 20s and 30s. Today black males can look forward to a a 30% chance of going to jail - much of that is the war on drugs. All in the land of freedom.

Dante

Tell you what, holier-than-thou "robinbobbin." Why don't you take a drive down to your local dope head hangout and just hang there for about a week or two? Hey, here's an idea, go enlighten yourself first before labeling people who disagree with you as "ignorant," you ignorant rant you. And what is so wrong about selling poisoned dope? It takes out most of the parasites on the human host. It lessens the burden of people who have an IQ. And it prevents continued infestation on the human genome by diseased organisms. And before you post another ignorant rant again, go down there and actually see for yourself, for once.

Alton

After reading some of the comments here comparing the effects of alcohol and marijuana, I find it funny that most of you state that alcohol is the more socially destructive substance. Isn't it then wise for us to ban alcohol? If we as a nation during the 1920s stuck to the prohibition, maybe we wouldn't be faced with the numerous negative side effects of alcohol uses such as alcohol dependency and liver and kidney failure.

Looking back in history, we should see the fallacy in our ways. To legalize marijuana, we will face endlessly more social problems that will corrupt our future as a nation.

Remember the effects of Opium War had on the Chinese. The use of opium was the first step in creating the Communist China we see today.

r. silvestri

Phillip and Morris or whatever they are called now will add highly addictive substances to the "weed" and then what this almost harmless product thus far will become a killer.

MarijuanaLobby

Regarding the economy: See stats on what American cities and states can save if marijuana were decriminalized. This is economic. http://www.marijuanalobby.org.

random

"And what is so wrong about selling poisoned dope?"

It would be murder for one and murder is illegal. Selling poisoned drugs with the intention of systematic killing will land you either life in prison or more likely, get you the death penalty.

"It takes out most of the parasites on the human host."

Parasite is a subjective definition. If your idea of a parasite is someone who just takes from society and gives little to nothing in return, these are subjective measures which depend on who is doing the defining. You could say that AIG is a massive parasite because it took people's money and wasted it on bad bets so now it's taking more. Are you going to go out and sell poisoned drugs to AIG's employees?

Oh and many wealthy and famous corporate tycoons who's companies generated billions of dollars and provided thousands of jobs played around with cocaine in the 1980s. Are they also social parasites for slaughter?

"It lessens the burden of people who have an IQ."

Every person has an IQ and what the IQ measures is up for debate. Modern IQ tests measure patterns and basic logic whereas older tests used to focus on academic knowledge. Such things as creativity and talents aren't measured by these tests and are not used in assigning an IQ score. A drug user could actually have a very high IQ but simply not putting his or her intellect to anything we'd consider useful.

"And it prevents continued infestation on the human genome by diseased organisms."

Note to Dante: social Darwinism is long dead because it fails to take into account basic biology and gets wielded by semi-genocidal sociopaths. Did you know that much of the human genome is actually retroviral DNA code that's been left by both evolution and by our genetic legacy? Everybody's genomes are diseased. Also did you know that human behavior is a product of nurture and environment rather than biologically defined?

So before you go on a killing spree and tell us to "educate yourself" while ranting furiously about people who use drugs as a single undifferentiated group, maybe you should consider that being a holier-than-thou sociopath who wants to determine who lives and who dies on woefully uniformed personal opinions is not a good thing in a civilized society.

MONITOR613

I'm totally stoned out of my gourd so tell me if this makes sense:

God couldn't stop two naked hippies from eating an apple. What's more is that God, in his infinite wisdom, didn't interfere with their free will. So the question is: Why is man so completely arrogant to think not only should he interfere with his brother's free-will even when God doesn't, but that he could actually succeed in doing what God failed to do?

And if laws such as marijuana prohibition are designed to protect me from myself, then why are prisons so dangerous? Clearly by breaking a law I've shown I need extra protection from the scary outside world. It's horribly ironic then that the facility used to rehabilitate me is so much harsher than my comfy house.

And if the issue is one of health and how bad marijuana is bad for your lungs, how come I can transfer the THC to brownies or a cup of tea for an utterly safe transaction of psychoactive chemicals?

And has anyone opposing Marijuana reform successfully explained why nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, Jesus, Television and other addictive mind-altering substances are compulsory for this culture yet pot, LSD, DMT, MDMA, psilocybin, peyote, and other inherently spiritual (when used correctly) mind-altering substances are deemed dangerous by men who presume to tell us what to do for our own good?

Dwight Nager

I don't smoke it. I support legalization.

Afonso Meneses

It's important to consider the drop in the prices of producing marijuana legally. Thus, the selling price of the product will represent a small basis for tax. It's better to inform the population of the effect of this drug on the human organism. Maybe it's not so dangerous, but certainly nowadays it sounds like a criminal attitude.

Nathan C

Hey Dante, the only ignorant person here is you. It is pretty funny (and sad) to see you attacking someone as ignorant when it is obvious to everyone with a clue that you have no idea what you're talking about.

First off, who the heck calls marijuana "dope"? The 1960s called--they want their terminology back. For your information, half of Americans have tried marijuana at one point or another. I guess you're saying that 50% of America is "diseased organisms" who ought to be poisoned and killed? You would have fit in well in Nazi Germany.

There are a lot of very successful and intelligent individuals who smoke pot regularly. For example, Michael Phelps, who cleaned house at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a record eight gold medals. He is just one example amongst thousands.

P.S., I smoke dope regularly, and I guarantee my IQ is much higher than yours.

There are a lot of losers who smoke pot, sure. There are also a lot a losers who drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, drive cars, breathe air, etc. Correlation does not, however, imply causation. Marijuana does not cause people to be stupid. At worst, it causes a temporary reduction in short term memory, which returns to 100% of normal within a few days of not smoking. In fact, marijuana has been shown in scientific studies to help prevent such conditions as Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest you do some more research before running your mouth next time.

Alton, now I will address your comments. Yes, alcohol is an extremely destructive substance, far worse than marijuana. Prohibition came about because of a desire to reduce problems caused by this harmful drug. Unfortunately, prohibition only made things worse. You can't just decide that you don't like a popular activity and then ban it in the hopes that everyone will decide to quit since it's now illegal. It doesn't work like that.

People still wanted to drink alcohol, and organized crime sprang up almost overnight to address their needs. The problems under Prohibition were worse than the problems Prohibition was intended to solve. Thus, Prohibition was repealed in 1933. No, the Mafia did not disappear. They had already grown too large. They were, however, greatly reduced in power and influence.

Now, let's look at marijuana. A large percentage of Americans want to smoke marijuana, and do smoke marijuana, and they are going to continue to smoke it regardless of the laws against it. Marijuana is far, far less harmful than alcohol. Marijuana has never killed anyone. It is not a gateway drug--that has been conclusively proven to be false. Scientific studies have shown it to be far less harmful to the lungs than tobacco smoke, and in fact it is beneficial in some ways. THC (the active ingredient) is theorized to retard cancer cell growth in the lungs. Marijuana does not cause to become violent and make stupid decisions. Drunk drivers swerve all over the road, run red lights, crash into people. Stoned drivers drive very carefully and slowly. In addition, we put thousands of peaceful people behind bars every year for no other crime than the possession of marijuana.

The modern day Prohibition has failed, and it is causing more problems than it is purported to solve. It's time to end Prohibition.

Jim

When you count the costs of policing, incarceration, probation, and military action abroad and add it to the tax revenue, the financial case for legalizing marijuana is quite sound. The human costs are just as important. How many lives have been ruined by a war against a relatively benign drug? How many families have been torn apart and had their assets seized? From a social deviance perspective, weed is about one step worse than speeding, but people pay serious consequences for it. Our recent presidents have all smoked it and yet are considered capable of leading our nation. It is a horrific statement regarding our national character that we think it is okay for them and countless people around us to smoke it, but those who sell it should be condemned to a living hell. Love it or hate it, weed is here to stay. We need to be rational as a society and to find a way to legalize marijuana, tax it, educate our youth about its effects, and return thousands of people from prison to their families and lives.

Dear "Friends of ours"

Dear "Friends of ours," you are an idiot. The Mafia stayed in business because, 1) it had strong ties to the government (and I bet you thought corruption was bad now) and 2) You act as if the gang runs the cannabis bars by making the analogy between alcohol bars run by the Mafia and cannabis bars run by the Mexican drug cartels. Clearly this shows your complete ignorance about the topic.

As you can see, your argument is just a house of cards waiting to be destroyed. How about you go back to the drawing board, drink some whiskey, and beat your children.

LOL at Dante

Wow Dante, you take the cake for being the best prohibitionist. So the best argument you can come up with is "let's commit acts of genocide on the people who use marijuana." Ha ha, way to revert to the same tactics I used in the 1st grade. I guess it's apparent your mind hasn't really developed yet huh? Well I shouldn't be too harsh on such an unstable person. But let's look at you suggestion, shall we? You suggested we go down to the local "dope head hangout" and see the damage it's caused. Why don't we just take a look at "dope heads" around our world, Tiger. Yes, it's tragic, Michael Phelps is screwed up and a mess up because he is a "dope head." Oh wait, little dude. He won more gold medals than you have working brain cells. Sorry, sport. Oh yes, and Barack Obama, he sure is a mess-up, you know making it all the way to presidency. I guess you could do better because you aren't a dope head.

Alton...umm?

Alton, you are suggesting we ban alcohol and go back to prohibition. Pick up a history book, lick the tip of your fingers, and flip to the part about how prohibition failed, only to cause more problems.

david

There are a lot of people earning good money today keeping it illegal and that is the biggest hurdle in legalization. Think those G-men will pick up hoes?

Everett Ward

We should legalize marijuana and tax it as in the case with alcohol. The biggest hurdle will be overcoming all the people earning big bucks to keep it illegal. Prohibition was a total failure and created more problems than it solved, same with marijuana.

I myself

I can understand the financial benefits of legalization. I can also understand how you can make money in prostitution or child pornography. Financial outcome doesn't define right and wrong.

God does give us choice, as some people here have noted. He also expects us to use our choices to maximize our potential.

FBEye

Illegal drugs are not the problem. The problem is that there are millions upon millions of people who want to use them. It's no different from alcohol.

RR

I've never used marijuana but don't understand the logic behind its not being legal in the first place. It's naturally grown unlike the artificially produced liquors, beers, and especially the medically approved substances called drugs. Obviously, something is terribly wrong with this picture. This has nothing to do with its use but has everything to do with this country's leaders growing power--to have total control over our daily existence. We have to see through the smoke-screen, folks.

greg hardy

Hell yeah.

Dante

Hmmm, thanks folks for proving my point on lack of IQ (short hand for intelligence, not that debunked IQ test). It appears to apply to dopehead supporters too. One of you appears to be fixated on the legal definition of "murder." The government sets up the legal terminology. If the government poisons the dope, then I would say it's not illegal. And a whole lot of you appear to be a little too mentally challenged to recognize the difference between physical performance of a repetitive task (swimming strokes or swinging a gulf club) with brain activity.

outlawbirder

I am a retired firefighter who spent the last several years as a fire/EMS dispatcher. The problems with alcohol cannot be compared to marijuana. In my 25 years in the fire service I have never responded to an incident involving marijuana but have responded to thousands involving alcohol. Ask any firefighter/EMS, and I'm sure they will tell you the same thing.

dominica

If you think about it, if we spend about $30,000 dollars a year on people put in jail or prison for marijuana use, we won't only gain money from taxes. But also save money from prisons. I think it is a great idea to both save and make money.

ivan

Forget Bob!

random

"If the government poisons the dope, then I would say it’s not illegal."

Actually it is. Killing one's own citizens without an actual trial and due process by selling poisoned drugs violates the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments to the Constitution. Since the Constitution is the highest law of the land and whatever the government wants to do must past muster with the Constitution, its actions would be declared illegal and whoever was involved would have to stand trial.

The Nixon-esque defense of whatever government decides it wants to do magically becoming legal is a fantasy of authoritarians rather than actual legal writ. If you could do us all a favor, Dante, and actually study up on the things you propose before you post them for the world to see, we would be much obliged. Oh and the righteous indignation with eugenic overtones went out in the 1940s. It's been almost 70 years, so really, it's time to change things up.

College Student

It's interesting to see the logical pro-con debate devolve into a flame war as you continue to scroll down the page.

One thing can safely be said, it is a very polarizing issue that will continue to be debated regardless of the future legality or illegality.

We have a convergence of history repeating with the positions of authority being filled by aging hipsters and the outcome will be interesting to say the least. A quick glance at how any particular drug made the move from legal to illegal can show that in the majority of cases, a drug was made illegal to control the section of society using that drug. Southern blacks and Mexicans for marijuana, West Coast Chinese railroad workers for opium, hippies and LSD, etc. By the 1980s when ecstasy came on the scene, it took fewer deaths nationwide than the number of people killed by lightning to force the criminalization of a legally prescribed drug used out of its context.

I'm kind of surprised that nobody has mentioned that cocaine was legal during prohibition and having a 'Coke and a smile' meant something else besides an ad pitch.

There will always be junkies, pimps, and thieves (more so in a depressed economy). It is how we respond that defines our society and I think we all remember how ridiculed Nancy Reagan was for her 'Just Say No' campaign (done during another depressed economy).

As for a larger picture outlook, I think it is scary that at so many points the American people would rather allow the government to dictate personal responsibility than to be responsible themselves.

Feel free to flame my opinions in my absence since I found this page on a Google search between classes and will in all likelihood never return.

Dante

I see a lot of dope heads here tries to use the higher morality road. Which is hilarious since by definition, dope is low morals. From an anthropological point of view, having members of a society addicted to a substance (weed or alcohol) is bad. It presents a threat to the status quo--the continued well being of a particular social system. For anyone with any brains, just look at China and her opium problems back when the British made it "legal." Society was a mess, and social costs sky rocketed. I have also never heard of a dope head coming out with any earth shattering innovations--except in their own dope-infused grandeur. Also looking back, if the Chinese government had started selling poisoned dope, the problem would have been solved within a year or two and the genetic defects been removed from the human genome. As to the "college student," yes, that type of "I'm jaded cause I'm omniscient" line of bull always comes from the younger imbeciles who don't have the experiences to make sound judgments. They either grow up (very few) or become stock brokers and lawyers--same parasites as dope heads (most of which are dope heads).

attila

Dante, you are the idiot that should be removed from the human genome. Please do the world a favor and kill yourself before you procreate and spawn more mental midgets like you.

Logical Thinker

I support legalization. Let's get some legislation going.

Stewart

Thirty years we have been talking about this. My letter to the editor below states my case. Imagine all we could have done with the revenue from thirty years of taxed substances. This country would be a much better place, not worse.

nytimes.com/1988/08/18/opinion/l-yes-legalize-cocaine-and-fix-its-price-786788.html

Tony

There would be far fewer social problems associated with pot than alcohol. No one has ever died from pot poisoning or overdose. How many times has someone died from a result of alcohol poisoning? A lot. Pot will turn a profit and lessen crime, but alcohol won't.

I have yet to see a decent public debate on the subject. What we need to do is tell the truth like pot in moderation isn't really going to do anything to you. It's time to quit throwing people in jail for smoking a joint.

Bob S!

Oops. I forgot to compare the costs of prohibition of drugs. How much is an innocent child killed in the crossfire of a gun battle by rival gangs worth? How much does it cost to pay the police, lawyers, judges, prison costs, and fees to "therapists" to whom our wise judges are sentencing these evil marijuana users. And how do the drug gangs invest this money, i.e. do they use it to fund further illegal activities? Sorry I just don't get it. Bob S.

Time to catch up with reality

Simply, we will save money by letting people in a free society smoke a plant and not be locked up for it. As a taxpayer, I pay the bills around here, and it's a waste of my money, so if you are an elected official, aka my employee, stop it. Get my law enforcement assets focused on more important things.

Don't expect to make much on the tax end of the equation--everyone who wants it will simply grow it.

Is this really that difficult to understand? Free will! Some "do gooder", who wants to protect us from ourselves, please point out one, just one example where social engineering worked? You want to coddle the world? Fine you pay for it, not me.

Bill Couture

Just why do the politicians think that legalizing pot would be political suicide? Seems to me more people are in favor then against. In fact the polls are probably understating the number in favor. 1) Everyone knows we are wasting tons of money on enforcement that doesn't work. 2) Everyone knows we are losing huge amounts of revenue in taxes. 3) Even if you don't smoke (and I don't) everyone knows lots of successful people who do. In fact if we put everyone in jail who was an accomplice because they knew someone who used it and didn't report it, the problem would be solved as there would be 300-plus million Americans in jail. I don't think that leaves anyone out.

Avraam Jack

It is ridiculous to use budgetary reasons to promote drug legalization.

Legalization should be promoted because society would be better off.

The really bad drugs would be sold very cheaply but only through pharmacies to registered addicts. This would control that problem by allowing us to know who is addicted, offer them treatment, and take the profits out of the business.

Marijuana, being virtually harmless, could be sold in commercial establishments but the diminished supply and risk would drive the price down.

Nothing substantial will happen on the national level for two years. In the meantime, if California or Massachussets legalize cannabis, the facts on the ground will drive policy.

Senator Webb has just submitted a bill to do a thorough review of criminal justice policies. That review will take 18 months. Only then can the government move forward.

.

yer pal

Okay, so marijuana is legal in Holland, but they have 1/2 the number of users per capita? Hmmm, and for what it's worth, to anyone under 50 this is just a nonissue.

Its mostly a moral issue

I can see no substantiation as an argument either way as a product of abuse or legal use. The argument has no value in regard to legality or illegality. Only as a moral issue does it have conversational value. Those with stern morals will believe it to be a sustance than should remain banned. Of course, thay also believe the word hell is a naughty word. Those with lighter morals see it as nothing more than a method of relaxation and entertainment. Of course, they also think that it should not be illegal to run nude through the streets.

In a pro or con discussion like this one needs to start with a base line.

Base Line: A new discovery has been made by Merk Pharmaceuticals in the processing of the hemp plant whereby an individual can smoke the filing of the plant flower to improve ones glaucoma, the FDA is looking into whether it can be otherwise harmful to the human body.

Questions:

Is there a windfall marketing potential for Merk?

How many humans would take-up smoking this new product?

What are the health ramifications to humans?

What are the criminal ramifications should this product be refuted by the FDA?

What are the moral ramifications as identified by religious entities?

What are the economic ramifications from such a product?

What if it wasn't a pharma company that discovered the new product?

And so on.

When you finish answering all the possible questions immagineable to a new product introduction such as cannabis, then ask yourself who has the interest and or agenda in allowing or disallowing such a product to market.

Then ask the same question of who has an interest in allowing or disallowing such a product to (a legal) market as things stand in our current philosophical, political, big business, media, religious, and left and right society that we have today.

The cost to keep it illegal has and always will go up, not only in hard currency capital but human capital, emotional capital, political capital, and just about all other forms of capital one can think of.

The cost to legalize it will also go up but this cost will be at the expense of the privte business world, not the taxpayers and innocent families cought in the rage of anger, greed, and self interest.

adam

It's common sense that we should regulate and tax marijuana.

It all comes down to simple supply and demand. Trying to prohibit something that has a high demand doesn't work and results in more serious problems.

legalization Ghetto slums

Legalizing pot or anything else is plain stupid and self destructive. There is no money of any significance for the government. Who wants a bunch of dumb wits high off their kites being supported off public money? They won't work, sit around fat from over eating, probably have cirrhosis of the liver from drinking to wash down that joint smoke. They probably hang out with dealers and pimps. You can't legalize any criminal element that will remain. They probably have drug induced cardiac and respiratory conditions. People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds use pot while more affluent ones prefer cocaine. I say get rid of them all and put them in jail. Drug addiction is a plague on society. Imagine all the car crashes/deaths/ dropouts/ deadbeats in work/abusive or neglectful parents/addict born infants. Look at any high crime infested neighborhood and see firsthand the effects that drugs, gangs, weapons, and crime have on them. And legalization freaks want to run everyone else into a ghetto for the sake of addiction pleasure.

Nick

As others have pointed out, comparing marijuana to alcohol is apples to oranges. Alcohol kills. By contrast, no one has ever died from marijuana. There are arguments against legalization; don't undercut your case by picking one that is laughable.

Strategery

Brad, you are correct. I doubt that the average pothead could take care of a "house plant." My point was, it is nearly impossible for the government to collect taxes on pot. This is because many people will grow it for their own use or to sell it. Unlike tobacco, which only grows under certain conditions, pot can grow almost anywhere. One of the reasons it is illegal today is because there is no effective way to collect taxes on it. If centralized distribution were possible, don't you think big tobacco would have lobbied to legalize pot already?

There is much more money to be made with our "justice" system for lawyers, judges, police departments, governments, etc. The revolving door keeps people in and out of the system, charging them fees each time they enter and exit.

I don't really care, legal or not, because I will not use it anyway. I'm not wasting anymore time on this subject.

thomas

Just what we need, more people on the street and road who are in another drug haze, killing others in traffic accidents, work related accidents, and the like. Wake up, liberal America. Society is already in the toilet from drugs, alcohol, no daddy at home, no morals, etc. and on and on, sad.

larx

Marijuana should not be legalized to generate tax revenues.

Marijuana should be legalized to reduce violence. Marijuana should be legalized because it it not government's right to tell free human beings what is the proper way to manage their own bodies.

Okie From Muskogee

Howdy folks, a few points

1) Given the medicinal benefits of marijuana, I don't think the pharmaceutical companies will give up without a fight.

2) My personal experience has been that way more violent tendencies come from alcohol than marijuana. If God allowed me to build a society from scratch but I could only allow alcohol or marijuana, I would choose marijuana.

3) The U.S. criminal system should target crime itself, not marijuana. Target the things that harm us like child porn, violence, break-ins, etc.

4) There is still a social stigma that there is a difference between 'drugs' and 'alcohol.' Alcohol is a drug as we all know. And I believe it is a much more devastating drug than marijuana. Don't believe me? Let's have a party with 100 pot smokers in one barn and 100 boozers in the other and see who has more problems.

MarkCinPhx

Con: Legalizing pot would reduce the amount of power and control that the federal and state governments have on a segment of the population. Would the government willingly give up that power?

Also, legalizing pot would put thousands of people out of work. Police, detention personnel, court personnel--the entire Justice system would see a reduction in work. We can't make pot legal. We have too many people that depend on it being against the law for their jobs.

kobe

I strongly disagree with the statement that the use of marijuana should be legalized. More revenue doesn't justify the use of the drugs. Once we are addicted to this stuff, it is difficult to resist the temptation to try it once more, just because of the reliance on the treat.

Steve L.

To sniff out the truth, simply compare these two authors' biographies. One man made/makes his life's income because of Prohibition, same as the drug lords do. The other man is a highly educated intellectual who studies crime, prisons, and child educational issues--and has nothing to gain from stating his position.

Do yourself a favor: Educate yourself. Read the historical legal arguments and Congressional records of how this prohibition started back in the 1930s. Warning: Some of the language used by legislators and pre-DEA agents is appallingly racist.

amr

I believe that alcohol does more damage to the human body than marijuana. People don't get divorced over it and your friends don't get killed from it. Think about it, I have more family members that died from liver damage (due to alcohol) than smoking marijuana. I know people that have been smoking every day for 30+ years and still today maintain a very professional job and never missed a day from work due to smoking marijuana. People who have never done it don't have a leg to stand on. Believe the ones that use--they are telling the truth. Anything that is good for you always has dollar signs attached too it. This is our answer for getting out of debt. It will continue for as long as the sun shines and makes us feel good.

James H.

@ MONITOR613: Amen, brother. Your thoughts are perfectly lucid.

@ Dante: "I see a lot of dope heads here tries to use the higher morality road…" First of all smart guy, take your high IQ and go learn proper English. "It presents a threat to the status quo." The only thing weed presents a threat to is the inventory of Pop-Tarts at your local grocery store. If it were anybody but you, I’d doubt that my eyes actually saw someone compare opium to weed. Really. Let us just compare the most dire situation involved with recreational drugs--a potential overdose. What is the effect of an overdose of opium? Probable death. What is the effect of an overdose of weed? A good nap.

I started smoking weed when I was 23 (6 years now). I haven’t had a single problem aside from an increased grocery bill. My only regret is that I waited so long. I am a successful full time nursing student who works full time as well. It's nice to achieve total release during my down time. My GPA is currently around a 3.6--not too bad for a parasitic dope head, in my opinion. My best friend is a cop and even he turns a blind eye to it. He once told me that he’d rather deal with someone who is high than someone who is drunk because they are much more docile and less dangerous to others in general.

I’m sure you enjoy having your morals dictated by the government, but I personally don't like the bull they're feeding me. What I do in the privacy of my own home should be of no concern to the government as long as I do not harm others. Just out of curiosity, is your last name Anslinger? I only ask because of all of the propaganda you are pushing.

Dante

Funny thing I have noticed about this "debate" on legalizing pot: The dope heads' side of the discussion always falls into one of three categories. 1) You're evil restricting people's freedom to do as they will. 2) Why are there no logical thinking in this issue? 3) No one had died from smoking pot. Here's the answer to these 3 dope head mainstays. 1) People are restricted from doing certain things that may harm society as a whole. Using your argument, child sex is okay as long as the child consents, right man? (Japan does this.) And history has already proven that legalized dope use is highly disruptive and costly to society. Just look at the history of British "legalized" use of opium in China. 2) Lack of logical argument? Just look at the historical precedence as stated in the response to 1) I have yet to see you dope heads come up with a logical point of view. 3) Smoking pot never killed anyone? Try telling it to the family in the mini van that was killed when some pot head ran into them in Long Island. And that is only one incidence. You dope heads have been smoking dope for so long, reality and logic now totally escape you. I repeat: The government should start selling poisoned dope at cut rate prices. These dope heads have proven themselves to be a burden on society. Kill off these parasites, preferably before they had spawned and further infested the human genome.

Geo

I don't need ignorant, finger wagging, self righteous, foaming at the mouth, right wing Nazis like Dante dictating to me what to do with my body. It's time to end the hypocritical prohibition against pot. And what possible reason could there be for the prohibition of hemp, completely non-toxic, non-psychoactive, and one of the most valuable and versatile plants?

"Prohibition... goes beyond the bound of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded"
-Abraham Lincoln

RK

The fact remains that in a free society, the government should have no role in dictating what one does to oneself. The current state of America's drug policy is un-Constitutional.

And the so-called medical costs incurred from marijuana use is really a nonargument. The majority of people who would smoke pot after legalization already smoke pot illegally. So therefore we are already paying for any of marijuana's ill effects without collecting any public benefit.

Not to mention the enormous cost incurred in continuing the failed "war on drugs."

mrog

I believe that if we could legalize the use of marijuana it would do us a bit a good. We could support school systems and pay off the debts that our government owes. But I would personally legalize gambling first. Why would we legalize a health concerning substance when gambling is out there not hurting anyone. Gambling should be perfectly legal in Alabama. These idiots are stupid for not thinking of it first. Gambling is legal in some areas, but it does us no good if we are not part of that area. Can't we all just decide on something.

Gatoray

I'll offer a pro perspective that only a few of the writers here have touched on. I am increasingly weary of ever larger amounts of my tax dollars going to finance this vast "drug-ocracy." I think we'd all be aghast if the real total of federal state and local dollars expended on this prohibition effort were revealed. I see way too many personal liberties sacrificed in the name of this phoney baloney "war on drugs."

The drug cartels would lose everything if we legalized. I don't think increased tax revenue is the reason to legalize but rather the ability to make our own consumption decisions, good and bad, and regain some personal freedom and responsibility.

Point of personal information: I smoked in college, haven't for many years. Looking back, it wasn't all that helpful for me. But many adults profess to function just fine with regular use. Hell, if we can tolerate the adverse effects of booze and tobacco, it is past time that the government treats us like children on this issue. I believe in personal responsibility.

Geo

I've known alcoholics and pot heads. Neither are desirable, but the alcoholics are a lot more dysfunctional. Two of my alcoholic friends are dead from cirrhosis and all of my pot head friends are alive and most are gainfully employed. Bottom line: Government should stay out of people's personal lives.

Brian

Assuming we legalized pot, most of the objectionable issues could be managed. For example, same rules apply as tobacco or alcohol. Age limits, driving restrictions, higher health insurance premiums, job ramifications, can't privately grow it, or only in small quantities etc. Since it takes so long to completely leave the human system, though, you could be almost automatically liable for a traffic accident in the event you tested positive even a week or more after use. That's called too bad so sad. Since there are possible temporary or permanent psychological effects to long term use that would have to be dealt with. One way to deal may be to exclude chronic pot smokers from health insurance or charge rates high enough to deal with the consequences. Why should the portion of the population that don't drink, smoke, or use pot subsidize the others. Bottom line though, who cares what people do to themselves if it doesn't hurt the rest of us?

James H.

@ Dante: The only problem with us arguing logic is that you are not capable of it. Please please stay on topic. This article is about weed only. Why do you keep going back to opium in China? Nobody cares about opium really. Opium is a hard narcotic; weed is not. You also compared it to child sex. Excuse me, but are you high right now? How can you even begin to contrast the two? I won't even dignify it with an argument. When you say: "People are restricted from doing certain things that may harm society as a whole," you imply that legalization of weed will turn us into the world's cesspool. Explain the beautiful country of Holland, genius. They seem to operate at a high level of functionality. Weed should be controlled just like alcohol. Nobody here supports smoking and driving, so get off the car accident stories. I'll give you 100 drinking and driving sob stories for every single weed tragedy you can find me. Please give me an overdose story--or one that ends in someone mortgaging their house and selling their body for weed. Whatever you do please keep your argument relevant. Your arguments so far have almost convinced me that your parents dropped acid when you were conceived. It's the only explanation for the obtuse opinions you keep offering.

Dante

Thanks, "James H." For proving my case. I'm sure a lot of the dopes here would be happy to know that their male nurse is high while giving them medication or performing a procedure. As to opium, I know using simple brain cells to generalize from past examples are hard for someone in a haze like you, but try a little bit. It's about the impact of people lazing around on drugs instead of performing work. It's about social costs. Simple logic. But don't let that worry you mon, just keep smoking the monja gonja mon.

Being Goode

War on Drugs:

Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on the "war on drugs" over the last 40 years or so. The expenditure of this money has not produced a negligible decrease in usage nor has its affected the availability of this "product" to our citizens. As long as there is a demand for marijuana, the market place will provide the product. Economics and capitalism in its purest form. It is easy to understand why the law enforcement industry refuses to get behind any effort to "decriminalize." Clearly it would have a direct impact on what historically has been increased budgets for law enforcement. It would appear that the "war on drugs" has been its own "economic stimulus" to the law enforcement industry. In addition, there are the costs associated with the increased building and staffing of prisons. The fact that a majority of the current prison population is drug offenders should not be ignored. There are so many similarities to the war on booze during prohibition--criminal enterprise is just one measure. We can all see the results of prohibition. Keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result would seem to be a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. Where are all the fiscal hawks on this boondoggle? Clearly this "war on drugs" affects all of us. As most of the medical experts have pointed out, it is a substance abuse issue, not a criminal issue. As a result, this "war on drugs" is in reality, a war on families. As we see family members and friends criminalized as a result of behavior that should be dealt with in the medical treatment and substance abuse community.

Dante

I totally agree with you, Being Goode. One has to look at this from the standpoint of simple economics. That is why I advocate poisoning the drugs. Take out the demand side of the equation and the supply side will follow. End of the war, the violence, the huge waste of taxpayer dollars that most people like you have a problem with.

Bill Couture

Dante, you are advocating the "final solution". If you don't understand the term, then get yourself a simple history book on WWII. After that, I suggest you report to Nurenburg for processing. Zig Heil

James H.

@ Dante: Nowhere on this site have you seen anyone advocate the usage of drugs on the job, hence the word "recreational." You tried to misdirect the conversation using the whole smoking and driving issue last time--for the last time: It needs to be regulated just like alcohol, end of story. As far as productivity is concerned you needn't be worried. People will do what they are inclined to do. Productive people will produce; lazy people will laze--with or without drugs. With your diminished brain capacity I can see how you struggle with the concept of others having a high level of functionality. "As to opium, I know using simple brain cells to generalize from past examples are hard for someone in a haze like you." Your grammar indicates that you probably didn't study too hard in school, Mr. Productivity. Too busy lazing on opium to study maybe? Your one track mind certainly dwells on it enough. Does anyone else think that maybe he doth protest too much?

controversy

Legalizing marijuana is just not feasible right now in these economic times; it would increase unemployment in law enforcement, prisons, probation officers, the legal profession, bankers (money laundering) and then the follow on ripple effects, a significant number of people would lose there jobs, but could they be retrained for treating the more serious problem of alcohol and drug abuse?

I grew up in a dry (no alcohol sold legally) county, when the issue came up for a vote to go wet (legalize the sale of alcohol--except on Sundays). The largest contributor against legalizing the sale of liquor in the county was the liquor store just over the county line. The walls of the liquor store just over the county line are still there, the roof caved in a more than decade ago. Does this analogy also apply to numbers running and the state run lotteries.

Would there be any correlation to that of the legalization of prostitution? When legalized in one country in Europe, sex crimes in that country dropped significantly.

Also as the government finally realized, that infrastructure to illegally import marijuana can also be used to import anything. Would the government really want to harm that infrastructure, or/and how about the business community.

Billy T

I believe legalization is the only reasonable approach. Take the profit away from the dealers, and let the domestic growers become a part of our agricultural economic system. In all likelihood, drug related violence would fall. Not to mention, US prison population for drug related offenses would dwindle. Furthermore, the $40 billion or so that the US spends per year on the drug war could be applied to more worthy causes, eg counter-terrorism, education.

Many conservatives are repelled by the idea of teens being able to buy marijuana. However, if a teen wants to get his/her hands on it, he or she will find a way. It would ultimately be much safer for a teen to purchase from a licensed retailer than entering a dangerous neighborhood and seeking the drug out.

Our dollars are going to continue to flow south where violence is worse than it is in the US, if we continue to ensure the immense profitability on the black market. Legalize and build our economy, reduce violence and prison population or continue to fight a war that will never be won. It seems like a simple decision to me.

Billy T

One last thing to all here regarding Dante. I think it best for no one in this forum to continue to engage this individual. Sure, he is entitled to his opinion, but no rational human being would suggest poisoning something to kill off people.

Seriously, let's spend our time debating with each other with logical remarks and with ideas that are actual possibilities. We all know that his/her suggestion is not a real possibility unless it were undertaken by some psychotic person(s) that enjoys inflicting harm on others.

Kareem

Bob,
In your calculations of the revenues minus costs of legalization you missed a crucial component: savings. The equation should be revenues + savings - costs.

The savings will be from reduced law enforcement expenditure, court costs, and mostly from fewer prisoners. It costs roughly $45,000 a year to keep one prisoner in the state of New York.

Also I would argue that the societal costs of marijuana wouldn't be as high as for alcohol. I would also argue that those costs are already being born right now because there are already millions of users. So the net increase in this supposed "cost" would not be that high anyway.
Thanks,
Kareem

Dante

Bill Couture wrote: "Dante, you are advocating the 'final solution.'" You exterminate polio, don't you? You sterilize the fungus infesting your skin, don't you? Measles were wiped out, right? So what's wrong with stopping the malignant cancerous sore of dope addicts? Remove the infestation from the human genome, and the species will be better off for it.

Damian Joseph

FYI, the Damian and Joseph above are not the "Damian Joseph" that writes for BusinessWeek.

Dante is an Idiot

Dante seems to be out of touch with every aspect of this issue, not to mention an unbelievable attachment to the word "dope" and a sick fixation on it. Come on man, I would love to know your story. You are a novel throwback and that may be an insult to other oldschoolers out there who grew up before we knew anything about modern health.

Dante

To "Dante is an Idiot": I note that all you dope heads rely on politically correct feel good phrases for your argument. No scientific observations or basic economics. And when all else fails, try character assassination. If you can, you would have tried to shout me down--freedom of speech only applies if people agrees with you, right? But than what would one expect from brain dead dope heads? (But as a clarification, medical marijuana is medical. Not a dope used to get high. So, no, I have no problem with medicine. That's science.)

Richard Brown

Society has failed on alcohol because society is flawed. Marijuana will be no different. The only saving grace for legalizing marijuana is that organized crime, cartels, street pushers, etc., will be largely bypassed and the revenue and control will be in society's hands. Control is the lesser of two evils, but make no mistake none of it is good.

James H.

@ Billy T: Part of me really does want to ignore Dante but I find his "unique" point of view absolutely fascinating. It’s also kind of funny to read his painfully broken grammar as he calls me and my fellow pot users "brain dead"…the only way it could be more fun is if I were high :)

@ Dante: You want science and facts? Would a study commissioned by a Mayor of New York convince you? How about a commission ordered by the President of the United States? If so, keep reading because I have both.

The La Guardia Committee was the first in depth study into the effects of smoking marijuana. The report was prepared by the New York Academy of Medicine, on behalf of a commission appointed in 1939 by New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. It systematically contradicted claims made by the U.S. Treasury Department that smoking marijuana results in insanity, deteriorates physical and mental health, assists in criminal behavior and juvenile delinquency, is physically addictive, and is a "gateway" drug to more dangerous drugs. The committee came to the following conclusions:

1. Marijuana is used extensively in the Borough of Manhattan but the problem is not as acute as it is reported to be in other sections of the United States.
2. The introduction of marijuana into this area is recent as compared to other localities.
3. The cost of marijuana is low and therefore within the purchasing power of most persons.
4. The distribution and use of marijuana is centered in Harlem.
5. The majority of marijuana smokers are Blacks and Latin-Americans.
6. The consensus among marijuana smokers is that the use of the drug creates a definite feeling of adequacy.
7. The practice of smoking marijuana does not lead to addiction in the medical sense of the word.
8. The sale and distribution of marijuana is not under the control of any single organized group.
9. The use of marijuana does not lead to morphine or heroin or cocaine addiction and no effort is made to create a market for these narcotics by stimulating the practice of marijuana smoking.
10. Marijuana is not the determining factor in the commission of major crimes.
11. Marijuana smoking is not widespread among school children.
12. Juvenile delinquency is not associated with the practice of smoking marijuana.
13. The publicity concerning the catastrophic effects of marijuana smoking in New York City is unfounded.

Next, on March 22, 1972, The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse was created by Richard Nixon to study marijuana abuse in the United States. The Commission's chairman, Raymond Shafer, presented a report to Congress and the public entitled "Marijuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding," which favored ending marijuana prohibition and adopting other methods to discourage use. Specifically, the Commission recommended "a social control policy seeking to discourage marihuana use, while concentrating primarily on the prevention of heavy and very heavy use." The report noted that society can provide incentives for certain behavior without prosecuting the unwilling. The Commission recommended decriminalization, finding that (and I quote) "criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only 'with the greatest reluctance." The Commission found that the constitutionality of marijuana prohibition was suspect as well, and that the executive and legislative branches had a responsibility to obey the Constitution, even in the absence of a court ruling to do so, they said that "all policy-makers have a responsibility to consider our constitutional heritage when framing public policy." The report noted that society can provide incentives for certain behavior without prosecuting the unwilling, citing the example that "the family unit and the institution of marriage are preferred means of group-living and child-rearing in our society. As a society, we are not neutral. We officially encourage matrimony by giving married couples favorable tax treatment; but we do not compel people to get married." The Commission also recommended that the distinctions between licit and illicit drugs be dropped, finding that "the use of drugs for pleasure or other non-medical purposes is not inherently irresponsible; alcohol is widely used as an acceptable part of social activities" Before you ask what happened to this commission’s findings I’ll just come out and tell you why it’s still criminalized. Nixon, upon hearing the opposite of what he wanted to hear, simply threw the Commission’s report into the trash…how mature is that?

Next I move to WebMD for some basic info about Marinol (medical marijuana). WebMD says that "Although it is very unlikely to occur, this medication can also result in abnormal drug-seeking behavior (addiction/habit-forming). " and that withdrawal symptoms "may include irritability, trouble sleeping, restlessness, hot flashes, and diarrhea." Seriously, I’ve seen worse side effects for cholesterol medicine. Keep in mind that most "home grown" weed has 17-18 % THC, and that’s the good stuff…Marinol is 100% unadulterated THC. This concentration of THC can lead to accidental overdose. Overdose by the home grown stuff is highly improbable. Which is more dangerous really?

These findings, my fact challenged friend, are science in action.

BigD

I believe that marijuana should be legal. Growing up in San Diego, I had access to just about every kind of drug I could want from the age of 15. It's not a gateway drug. I have never smoked crack in my life or done meth or been addicted to any drug. I have smoked pot regularly from around 15 up until 27 and then quit for personal reasons a few years ago. I smoke now from time to time and should be allowed to. If alcohol is legal, which contributes to the deaths of over 2 million people worldwide, only around 100,000 people a year in the United States, it really does not make sense at all to not legalize marijuana which may have 100 driving accidents due to being under the influence of marijuana per year. Now that's a huge difference. There are on average 75,000 people or more a year arrested on marijuana charges every year. It's political, it's money coming in to the states and the governments that have polluted the already corrupt minds of our politicians.

What they don't understand is that by legalizing marijuana, not only do we rid ourselves of the drug cartels but the money will stay here in the U.S. and the money we are wasting fighting it can be used for other things such as better education. There will be a huge market for taxation and maybe people will stop drinking as much and killing as many people per year as they do now. I drink about 1/4 as much as I do if I am smoking pot and a lot of smokers don't drink either. We are in a country that should not mandate us to abide by rules that make no sense. Lets keep alcohol, the legal drug that kills 75,000-100,000 people a year in drunk driving related deaths over legalizing a drug that doesn't cause death, harm or destruction to anyone. I have yet to understand this one. Someone enlighten me please and while you're at it, just go ahead and legalize it. Once California legalizes it for all and not just the medical uses, then perhaps the federal government will realize they've made a huge mistake in keeping marijuana illegal for so many years.

Dante

So "James H": The family that was killed in their min van because some pothead plowed into them died as a result of an auto accident and not pot use? Good play with semantics there, pothead. Try marijuana myths: http://paranoia.lycaeum.org/marijuana/facts/mj-health-mythology.html. And marijuana use does impair brain functions while in use. If not used for a few days, normal cognitive functions return. http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/mari.html. But like I said, you're the best example for legalizing marijuana--I'm sure everybody will be happy to have you as their nursie when they're in a bad way. I'm sure you're so confident in this that you will readily admit to your local nurse licensing division that you smoke weed. Or will you just lie like any other dopehead?

Bill Couture

People are not a disease. Treating them as such is not the same as killing a disease. Your reasoning is the same as the Nazis reasoning regarding the Jews. Change the word "dope" to "Jew" and you sound just like Mein Kampf. Your attitude is very dangerous in case you haven't noticed some people regard you as in infestation of the gene pool. Not only that but they seem to out number you. While I support your right to be an idiot and say whatever you want, you might consider that you are just making a fool of yourself.

Prophet

Legalizing marijuana now after making criminal gangs and organizations dependent on the massive illegal income will have to be done in small steps for if these crime organizations lose thirty plus percent of their income, we will have a huge crime wave of every type of crime as they replace lost income. This will come with street and cyber wars world wide. Stupid US law enforcement has created a world wide nightmare to generate business for themselves at terrible cost to society. US law enforcement isn't about public safety, but generating increased business to raise their pay and benefit packages. The last thirty years has proved this. Law enforcement creates crime to create business and now we have a real mess that has to be unwound very carefully or the disaster will be beyond our imagination.

mshootz

Since marijuana is California's biggest cash crop and the state's budget is in the red by an estimated $42 billion (and growing) combined with the fact that marijuana is already legal as a method to reduce the pain caused by disease, you'd think the California Legislature would realize how much tax revenue they could generate by legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana. But there is hope. Even former Orange County prosecutor and judge Jim Gray has endorsed a bill by Democratic San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Amminano, who is calling for marijuana to be regulated and taxed much like alcohol.

James H.

Dante, Dante, Dante...do you even read what I write in its entirety? Let us review a single statement from an earlier post: “It needs to be regulated just like alcohol.” When I say “it” I mean weed. When I say “regulated” I mean controlled. When I say “just like” I mean identical to. When I say “alcohol” I mean all drinks containing alcohol.

In an effort to help you understand this concept I will give you an example…unfortunately I cannot post any pretty pictures to assist you in following along. Stay with me Dante, this is going to be confusing but I’m going to try my best to make it like one of those “Watch Jack Run” stories you enjoyed so much growing up…

Scenario: Weed is legalized and placed under restrictions similar to alcohol (so if you can’t legally perform a task while under the influence of alcohol then you would not be able to smoke weed and perform the same task).

Example 1: Nurse James goes to work under the influence of weed and he makes a giant mistake involving the dosage of medicine for a patient. As a result Nurse James is fired and loses his license for practicing medicine under the influence. Nurse James got exactly what he deserved.

Example 2: Nurse James decides it would be fun to go downtown and listen to some live music. In order to further enhance the music he decides to partake of some excellent creeper he got his hands on. On his way downtown he becomes preoccupied with the stereo and mows down a small child with his car. Operating a motor vehicle under the influence is illegal. Police arrive on the scene and arrest Nurse James; they prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. Nurse James receives a sentence of life in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Nurse James got exactly what he deserved.

Example 3: Nurse James goes to Atlanta for a Dave Matthews concert. Nurse James parks his car at the Ritz Carleton in Buckhead. Nurse James has the concierge call him a taxi to take him to the concert. Before the driver arrives Nurse James smokes half a blunt the size of a cannon with his girlfriend. The driver arrives and shuttles Nurse James and his girlfriend to the concert. After planning the driver’s return time Nurse James and his girlfriend enjoy a tailgate party followed by about 2 hours of musical bliss. The driver returns Nurse James and his girlfriend back to the Ritz. Nurse James goes upstairs and finishes the rest of the blunt with his girlfriend, after the high sets in the happy couple has mind blowing sex. Nurse James did not offend any laws or hurt anyone else in the process; he wakes up at noon and returns home after a wonderful experience in the city. Nurse James got exactly what he deserves.

You see Dante, what I’m trying to say is that I am an adult. What I do in my own time is nobody else’s business. I am responsible enough to know when it is appropriate to smoke and when it is not appropriate. I do not need my actions dictated by anyone else to be a responsible adult. I am intelligent and I make grades that rank me in the top third percentile of my class. Whether or not the patient wants me to help them because of my leisure activities I don’t know, but I do suspect 1 thing---they’d rather see me coming than Herr Dante with his calloused attitude.

P Ryan

We hate losing wars, and few politicians want to be the one to announce that we have been fighting a stupid war that we have no chance of winning. Billions of dollars have been wasted on this effort and billions more will be wasted to try and make those first several billion were not spent in vain. It's easy to say in vain because anyone who's ever smoked pot knows that anyone, and I mean anyone, who wants to can get their hands on it. The idea that greater access will lead to more usage is inane. Unless someone can show me that pot legalization will kill almost 500,000 people a year in the US (cancer.og), I'll continue to wonder why pot is illegal and cigarettes are not.

James H.

@ P Ryan: Your observation is dead on, brother!

Jack Rodgers

I agree with Dr. Dean Edell, nationally syndicated radio, and TV medical expert and author. For 25 years he has advocated scientists, including medical doctors, have significant influence on this--not just the politicians.

Bette

I think you have lost many readers by calling each other names and swaying away from the topic with such put-downs.

I am a medicinal marijuana user. I have crippling arthritis throughout my body, and marijuana is the only medicine that helps. I took one medication for the pain and inflammation and ended up with a stroke (cerebral hemorrhage). This, needless to say, almost killed me. That was in 2003.

Do I want marijuana to be legal? No, I would rather continue as a medical patient using it (smoking, vaporizing, eating) to ease my disease. You wonder why?

Take a look at cigarettes (not alcohol) for a moment. What is happening with the control of this substance? Taxation is overwhelming and I do not think we have seen the end of it. Well, my friends, I think this is what will happen should marijuana become legalized and controlled.

Government control leads me to other concerns. For example, I grow for my medical needs. Should the government get involved, the gardens would get taxed or charged in some way to bring in government "revenue." This would make it difficult to take care of my disease. I would not be able to afford the medication I grow. I sure do not want to [resort to] the business of supplying marijuana to distributors.

My marijuana use is as important as the aspirin/Tylenol one takes for a headache. Compassion will need to be adhered.

So, gentlemen, do not be too harsh on Dante as he has a lot to learn. I pray he never gets crippling arthritis, glaucoma, or cancer as I am sure we will hear a different voice speaking should that happen.

this is too funny!

So far, we have everyone in this list in favor of legalization except for one sadly misinformed person who believed the propaganda that pot is addictive, and a person writing under the name "Dante."
You should realize by now that nobody is really as stupid as Dante pretends to be, and this person is just writing this preposterous BS to see how many folks he/she can get to waste their time trashing his/her ridiculous taunts.

As for the arguments, one of Seattle's ex-police chiefs said something to the effect of: "In all my years in service, we never once had to deal with a person who was violent because of the influence of marijuana."

And marijuana users? The ones I know are teachers, truck-drivers, doctors, mayors, lawyers, farmers, business owners, and police officers. Oh yeah, plus the students, who are our future teachers, truck-drivers, doctors, mayors, lawyers, farmers, business owners, and police officers.

thevoice@voicedup.com

It is interesting to see the opportunities that can arise out of crisis. So many things can slip under the radar as we are glued to the chaos on our nightly news. The Bush/Cheney administration used their crisis to wage war and make many of their friends at Halliburton and Blackwater very rich. The current administration is taking a different route. A reversal of the ban on federal funding for stem cell research, the closing of Guantanamo, and a scheduled withdrawal for the troops in Iraq have happened in a short amount of time. These could easily be major fighting points in any election year, yet it all takes a back seat to our ailing economy. Something else may slip under the radar that has the potential to help heal our sick economy. The legalization of marijuana has made strides in the last few weeks that never would have happened under the last administration. Normally this would be a highly debated idea, but in our current state the process may go unnoticed until it is complete.

In 1996 California was the first of 13 states to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. President Clinton put in federal restrictions allowing the government to shut down suppliers. President Bush took this one step further and allowed raids on suppliers and growers. These raids continued into this January and February. During a press conference last week our new U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, stated that such raids will no longer be a part of president Obama’s policy as he does not intend to use federal resources to circumvent state laws. Since then governor Corzine of New Jersey has said that he would sign medical Marijuana legislation if it came across his desk, adding the Garden State to the list. Personally I do not feel that anyone, government official or health care agency, should have the right to stop a doctor with an M.D. from prescribing a drug to a patient if they feel it is warranted.

This brings me to my final point. A recent report from MSNBC has revealed that San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is proposing a bill that would legalize all marijuana, not just medical, in the state of California for anyone over the age of 21. Government statistics estimate that California residents spend approximately $14 billion in purchasing marijuana illegally each year. Ammiano’s bill can be found here. A $50 per ounce levy and sales tax would total an estimated $1.3 billion in revenue for the state each year. Imagine what would happen if all 50 states legalized it. Think of the billions of dollars that could be generated on sales that are already happening illegally anyway. Don’t forget how much money we would save if we did not arrest, prosecute, and jail people for marijuana charges. It would save every major city time and money in their war on drugs. In such difficult financial times, should states be denied money that could easily flow from the sale of marijuana? Will this slip under the radar if the economy keeps doing poorly or will it be highly debated in the public spotlight first? California will be the test run. Best of luck to them. http://www.voicedup.blogspot.com/

JP

I have used both alcohol and marijuana and I can tell you from first hand experience that both are extremely destructive to society.

If you want to turbocharge a society right into socialism, then this would really do it. Alcohol creates judgment problems and pot creates laziness and obesity. (Too mellowed out. What we really need is a good dose of reality.)

Let me unpack this a little:

1) We have a new socialist president who has no clue about anything.

2) We are smack dab in the middle of the worst economic situation in decades.

3) The only way we can get out of this is to clean up the act of all the corporate scammers trying to make a fast buck at the expense of others. and government control will only help a a little. Examples, Madoff, Ivan Boeski, etc.

4) We need a mega dose of ethics and morality. in the 1950s, families had a greater respect for others and the economy (post WWII/Korea) was "emergent" and actually created a boom market in many areas.

JP

Chris

You're kidding, right?

C'mon People...

Stop arguing with Dante. I think Dante is just typing up nonsensical and illogical comments as a prank to incite and probably laughing his ass off whenever someone offers a serious reply to him.


Dante

This is funnier than watching a bunch of dopeheads trying to turn on the TV. The worst "argument" you can come up with is that I'm the minority non-dopehead among all you dopeheads. That's a hoot. And who said murder besides you dopeheads? I say have the government poison the dope. Think of this as assisted suicide. It's not like anyone is forcing you mental rejects to ingest. You chose to. Just like you chose to do a job (nursing, piloting, driving) while high and putting other people's (who didn't chose to) lives in danger. Who is the dictator here really? The dopes who make the decisions for other people to put their lives in danger, that's who.

Jeff Montgomery

Tax revenue is not a reason to legalize marijuana, but the fact that nobody has the moral right to stop two individuals from trading and using drugs, is. It is nobody's business whether someone smokes or sells pot, any more than it's anyone's business if they drink alcohol or consume trans-fats. It's their life, to do with as they choose. It is a peaceful transaction that hurts no one. I'm sure we'd have less murder if we locked everyone in their homes, but we don't, because until someone actually commits a violent crime, we leave them alone. It should be the same for drugs and other "vices." If you want to care about drug users, then start a free drug treatment clinic.

On the other hand, the devastation wrought by anti-drug laws is extensive and caused solely by our government, just like during Prohibition. It's ruined vast swaths of American inner cities, it's rendered northern Mexico and other areas under the control of violent gangs, it ruins the lives of unhappy escapists who turn to drugs and then lose years of their lives in prison, etc. etc. It's an absolute abomination.

James P Morgan

If marijuana is legal it will not end illegal smuggling, drug addicts and crimes. Drug addicction will continue and crimes will rise. You still need money to buy drugs legally or illegally.

Luis

Legalize. The world will follow, and billions spent on repression will be saved everywhere. Very few people will begin to smoke only because it is legal, and a lot will not start because it is legal.

Roman V.

With no intended offense to Mr. Bob Stutman, your reasoning for the con portion of marijuana legalization is fairly weak. You are assuming that the problems associated with alcohol abuse and addiction would be the same for marijuana smokers. Since we are in the business of assumptions, lets assume many people that become addicted to alcohol do it for stress-related problems surrounding their life to alleviate the pain. This often masks the problems that often lead to disruptive behavior like violence which is costly, I agree. However smoking marijuana often places you in a more comfortable situation. Smoking does not increase angry thoughts and does not have people act solely on emotions much like alcohol. It lets the user relax and sit back to think of their situations. I have never heard of an angry pot-smoker .... has anyone? We are talking about wasting tax dollars on getting rid of a drug that is innocent compared to alcohol, nicotine, meth, and heroine. These same tax dollars should be re-invested into the state especially in today's economy. We should refocus our stance on drugs and go after the "hard" drugs that destroy peoples lives and thus creating more unemployment, violence, etc. With legalization, the U.S. can embrace this extra billion dollar revenue, save money on the drug war by focusing on real drugs that are holding back the economy (meth, crack, pills, heroine), and alleviate many strapped laden government problems that can benefit us as a country, as a people, as a nation. We are the largest consumer for marijuana, might as well embrace it like we did alcohol and tobacco.

For the Pro side, a gram costs more than $10, often being $15-#20 from the research I have gathered for retail street value pricing, thus under-projecting the billions more revenue this country can be benefiting from.

David

Why does the government keep drugs illegal? It doesn't like competition. Don't believe me? Check the Bill Clinton and Mena, Arkansas connection. Where do you think the CIA gets it's black funding money?

That being said, Amsterdam is a great model for marijuana legislation. They have 1/2 the per capita incidence that we do.

Oh, and to the idiot above who says that potheads produce nothing, I'm a 25 year long smoker with an Ivy League MBA, 2 successful businesses, and a high responsibility position at an internet company. I invent more new ideas, websites, business models and concepts on a weekly basis than Dante has in his lifetime. My IQ is 126, (Mensa material) and many of my friends who I smoke with have IQ's in the 150's.

So, Dante, I'm happy to match wits against your witless intellect any day.

diziiralte

What ruubish are you guys saying? This is the 21st century. Haven't you read the bible? We have the right to do anything with our lives, but doing all the things may not always be good for us, so grow up and act like adults.

Rational Economics

When leading conservatives like Bill Buckley and professors at the University of Chicago advocate legalizing weed because the social costs outweigh the health costs to individual users, it proves thinking conservatives can oversome party ideology. Mexico is in deep trouble due directly to the drug and gun trade coming from the U.S. The war on drugs was long ago lost and remains only for conservative ideological reasons.

MKarvan

Right now I take four prescription meds for my pain, and all they do is make me goofy. I cannot drive or operate normally when I take them. So what's the difference? I've spoken to marijuana users, and they all say it really does help certain pains and other ailments. I think the reason the DEA and other federal enforcement agencies do not want it legalized is that their jobs may be in jeopardy. Plus think of all the confiscated valuables and cash they would miss out on. Yeah, it really is all about the money, not what MJ does to you or for you.

And besides, it does not matter what the feds make--illegal, guns, drugs, living, whatever--people will always find a way to do get it or around it it.

Stephen Dee

Bob:
What are you smoking? There might only be 16 million regular users of MJ in the U.S., but I'll bet the population who have at least tried it and would use regularly if it were legal is more like 160 million-plus. I recall a Canadian survey found that roughly 2/3 of Canadians have enjoyed THC.

The trade goes on regardless of whether the government taxes it. As with smoking, recognition of the recreational use of THC and subsequent taxation can not only bring additional revenue to government coffers the way speeding cameras do, but it can add funds for social programs the same way that tobacco taxes fund anti-smoking campaigns. The savings from court cases and imprisonments alone make this worthwhile. Sure, it'd really irritate the indoctrinated law-enforcement types, but they get paid to enforce, not to judge so they'll just have to get over themselves.

I'd love it if law enforcement could focus on preventing or solving murders, breaking up gangs, and getting actual addictive drugs like cocaine, crystal meth and heroin off the streets.

I don't personally need to use MJ, but I recognize that the cost of not legalizing it is far higher to society than just letting it go.

I think that THC regulation should come under the auspices of the FDA (which is where tobacco belongs too) and should have a minimum age for use much like alcohol. This THC prohibitionist mistake has to end. Stalwartly "staying the course" on this issue reminds me of the way a certain political party preaches the benefits of fiscal responsibility when not in office, then blatantly ignoring any call for fiscal restraint or balanced budgets, the second their feet hit the leadership role. I'm frankly astonished that sane people still pay attention to these arguments, but propaganda is a powerful weapon, not to be underestimated.

TheGreen

Maybe they could put some of the money from taxing it into getting more police and trying to reduce the crime.

jack

Why end prohibition? Because it doesn't work. Where there is demand, there will be supply.

Rob

The real justification for the legalization of marijuana is that the government has no right to prescribe what I do with my own body. As long as I do not harm others, the government has no say in my actions.

diAnna

Marijuana needs to be decriminalized not legalized. Making marijuana legal would help/hurt both sides of the issue. Everyone needs to wake up and smell the reefer. Nothing good can come from marijuana's legalization. Those who are against it would just use it to their advantage by growing immeasurable amounts of it on their acre(s) of land and sell it to the public at an unaffordable price. Kind of what is happening right now anyway. The US population now pays it's southern foreign neighbor to grow, deliver, and to keep it comin'. We pay ridiculous amounts of money regulating/disposing of this so called "illegal" substance. We are putting pot users and sellers in jail--why? They should only have to pay a fine. Those who want to grow larger amounts for business purposes should have to obtain permits and business licenses from state and local governments. Look at the jails..Filled with Americans who sold pot and now have a hard time finding a job due to the huge black mark on their criminal records. Shouldn't we be going after heroine/crack dealers?

James

Can't resist responding on this thread. Legalization would absolutely be better. Yes there are some cons--more people might smoke a little more pot, some people might lose their jobs because they can't control themselves, some possibly higher medical bills in the way of substance abuse programs. But there are many more pros with bigger benefits--fewer people abusing alcohol and harder drugs, fewer nonviolent people in jails, reduced mob/cartel crime, some tax revenue for the government, pain treatment for certain ailments.

No, legalization won't end mob behavior. No, it won't fix the huge deficit. No, it won't eliminate the use of hard drugs or alcohol. But in the end the benefits will be greater than the costs, and those of us that enjoy a casual smoke for relaxation will be able to do so freely without any impact on anyone but ourselves, and I would be happy to pay some extra tax for that freedom.

Let's not try to solve every problem in the world or try to legalize all drugs. Let's start small. Let's pick the low hanging fruit. How about starting by selling pot through pharmacies just like Sudaphed decongestant distribution is controlled. This would put some limits on rampant abuse and let us get a better view on the impact--which I am pretty sure will be for the better.

Troy

Although pot smoking has never been proven to cause health problems, I beg to differ. I am living proof that it can and does. After smoking pot for almost twenty years religiously, probably 3 to 4 times a day every day, I have developed heart disease--a heart structural deformation called cardiomyopathy. I have never smoked cigarettes or done any other illegal drugs. I'll never smoke again or live a normal life. Right now I'm only 32 years old, wishing I had never smoked a joint in my life. Enjoy your health.

moldy

Stutman is retired right? Same old arguments from an old drug warrior. They start off talking about legalizing pot then Stutman changes the word pot to drugs and then throws in the old last resort word... KIDS. Like once DRUGS (not pot) are legal we have to give them to our kids? What a piece of work! Scare tactics don't work anymore when they are filled with deceit and lies.

P. Doff

Do we really want the kind of country that can be subsidized by Tommy Chong and Jeff Spiccoli?

James H.

@ Troy: The fact that you started smoking at age 12 can't have helped. Your body was still developing so it's obvious why you're running into these issues now. Why don't we just keep the tentative minimum age for smoking weed at 21 for the time being--this way your body has fully matured by the time you start smoking.

Joe G

It seems that Dante chooses to respond to any criticism and alternate points of view with aggression. Maybe smoking pot from time to time would be good for you, Dante. It will help to build your self confidence and "sense of adequacy."

BusinessWeek magazine is a widely read periodical. Its target market consists of educated, successful, and hard working individuals. Now I ask you to use the basic tools of observation. How many people who have posted comments regarding this article are for the legalization of marijuana versus against that notion? The last time I checked, we were a nation "of the people, by the people, and for the people." So let’s let majority rule and freedom ring.

You are certainly entitled to your opinions, but it has been my experience that there are usually underlying circumstances that shape your opinions other than real facts. Often times, especially when dealing with men in your age demographic, change can be a scary thing, so it is only natural to oppose it with the level of passion and conviction that you have shown in this issue. I warn you, though, do not allow fear and hatred to cloud your judgment or your acceptance and understanding of reality. Scientific research is conducted and entire reports published that clearly and completely paint an accurate picture of the negative and positive physical effects of marijuana. This is not an invitation to pick and choose the facts that support your argument and regurgitate them under the guise that that is the whole story.

Anyone will admit that there will always be people who abuse any substance, legal or illegal: anti-anxiety medications, pain killers (which absolutely lead to the use of heroin), and various other substances including breathing the gas out of a spray can. It is not our responsibility as a society to sacrifice our own freedoms and harmless pleasures in an effort to protect a small minority from their own self-destructive behavior.

Joe G

P.S. Dante

I own two successful businesses, I am extremely well educated with a BS in business and in management, an IQ of 132, a homeowner, taxpayer, loyal friend, and avid pot smoker. Don't hate.

James H.

@ Joe G: Amen! I couldn't have said it better myself.

I am successfully chasing a nursing degree while working full time and running a 4-unit apartment building I purchased a few years ago. In what is left of my spare time, I help my dad run his gunsmithing business (29 years accident free).

Bryan Koistinen

What about the use in Alaska where you can grow your (2 plants) own. Have we heard how things are run there? It seems that everyone has an answer to this, and they are all different and a lot the same in ways. Legalized sounds like everyone wins. Not legalized, it sounds like everyone loses. The only thing I see is the age limit, and growing your own consumption. Respect the consumer and the consumer will respect you. It's the hard drugs that destroy (look at the facts).

Bryan Koistinen

About the revenue on pot: What happens to the billions of dollars that are collected from the drug busts? This money should be plenty to pay for rehab and whatnot that is spent because of the addiction of those that can't control their habits (which falls under any kind of over indulgence).

Allen

Instead of debating so intensely, the calling of names, and the social-political spin, why not let the people of the United States vote? "We the people." This is a democratic republic isn't it?

Kody

Ok,
Look, I’m 14 years old. I smoke weed and cigarettes. My whole family smokes weed, and so do all of my friends and it looks like the politicians just want more people in jail or youth homes than happy and healthy. At least I don’t drink alcohol. I mean millions of people don’t smoke weed because they’re scared of overdose and that’s a proven fact that you can’t, so what I'm trying to get at is that tens of millions of people will get sick and puke to alcohol and not weed, because after a few shots, I will be barfing my liver out—and with weed, I'm calm, relaxed, chill, and concentrate. Right now I'm high. I always am and I'm not a bad kid--good grades. Cigarette sales for minors stopped, so I can’t buy cigs and maybe hopefully if weed is legalized, cigs might be for minors, and like I won’t have to be cooped up in my god damn house all day.

Dante

Thanks for the education, Joe and James. You both made some great points. After rereading all of these posts, I realize that I have been outwitted for the final time. I don't have much happening at home, and I enjoy debating, Since I wasn't very popular in school, I don't have much to say one on one, but on these posts, I can get people talking about me, and it makes me feel important. I mean it's Business Week, right? Millions of people see my name. I would love a job working for Bob Stutman, too. Maybe he will try to contact me because I was doing a pretty good job supporting his stance. Except that you guys pretty much shot me down each and every time. I realize I was grasping at reasons and going in circles with my posts, and I didn't ever really make a good point the whole time. Originally I must have fallen for the conservative propaganda about marijuana. The legalization of marijuana makes sense on so many levels now that I think I might go try to get myself a bag and see what it's all about. Thanks again for the enlightenment. Here is to sharing an inhale or two sometime. Sorry if I upset anyone.
Peace, Dante

jaime

I think marijuana should be legal. There are already all those people in the street who are intoxicated by any kind of drug or any number of combination there after. Even if people grow their own weed and the government loses the tax revenue, it is still OK in my view.

P.M. Jaworski

The social cost of marijuana vs. alcohol:

In Canada, direct health care costs of marijuana are $73 million per year, compared with $3.3 billion for alcohol.

In Canada, we have socialized medicine, so the whole cost is borne by taxpayers.

Canada has the largest proportion of marijuana smokers in the world, at roughly 16% of the population.

In Canada, if pot were legalized, three sources (including me, Harvard's Jeffrey Miron, and SFU's Stephen T. Easton) estimate that tax revenue would be between $1 billion to $3 billion, while total social costs (hospital plus lost productivity) of marijuana would be $100 million (assuming constant rates of use. If the rates of use increase, adjust both the tax revenue and social cost figures proportionately).

There really is no argument. Legal pot would result in massive tax revenues, with very little social costs.

(Source: http://www.ccsa.ca/2007%20CCSA%20Documents/ccsa-011350-2007.pdf)

KC

Interestingly enough, everyone is missing the most obvious misconception about legalizing marijuana and taxing it...What happens when all these users simply grow their own rather than buy it. This isn't rocket science. It's a vessel, some soil, seeds, and you've got 97% of the work done: 6-8 weeks later, you've got your pot. And with most of America being "casual" users, 1-2 plants growing will take care of them. Remember, marijuana/hemp grows wild all over the country. It's not a difficult crop, especially if it's just 1-2 plants. And rest assured, if legal, some company will come out with the $39.95 miracle pot growing system guaranteed to grow bigger, more potent marijuana in 1/2 the time. But back to my point: Legalizing pot won't even bring in 20% of the revenue the pot proponents claim.

ashley james

I disagree. Weed should be legal. Weed does not make people do bad things--beer does, tobaco gives lung cancer and can give people way shorter life, so the law and government are so old fashioned and do not lke change. So if you had more evidence, they would say, no, we nead new laws, and they must be under the age of 50. Of course the people we have now are too old.

Rebecca Ann

I must admit, all these entries are quite entertaining to read.
Personally, I do believe that marijuana should be legalized. I am not just saying that because I'm a "stoner." I am saying so because it's causing way more trouble being illegal than it would being legal. It is everywhere and it's always going to be everywhere. This whole process is just following the Prohibition Act from the 1920s. America has already lost all of its money. Why not legalize it, put a tax on it, and we could perhaps get out of this debt a lot faster than we are now. Come on, Obama, help us out here.

Dan The Man

I'm writing a documented argument essay in favor of legalization for my college English class and I want to say I'm thankful to BusinessWeek for having this page and all the people who made comments. You have been very helpful in my research.

Cody C

As a matter of fact, I'm doing the same thing as "Dan the Man" here. Writing a persuasive essay for my college English class on the legalization and taxation of marijuana in the United States. I hope you all don't mind, but I quoted many of your points of view... just wanted to thank everyone for debating this. Legalize it.

Think Stutman

Bob Stutman ignores the cost we all bear of enforcement, prosecution and defense, and incarceration.

Why?

april

I would like to say that I support wholeheartedly the legalization of pot. I have been an avid pot smoker for going on 15 years now. I must also add that in addition to the two Bachelor's degrees that I currently hold (one in nursing, the other in psychology), I am one semester away from obtaining my Master's in nursing. All of these degrees have come with a proudly held 4.0 GPA. And all were obtained with the daily use of pot. I cannot perceive, from personal experience or debated rhetoric, why pot should not be legal for controlled consuption? P.S. James H: Good Luck in nursing school--it's a great proffesion!

mydnytmover

Dante
March 26, 2009 07:10 PM
"A better solution would be for the government to start selling poisoned dope. Killing off all the dope heads does great things for the tax base as expenses for enforcement, medical care, welfare, environmental cleanup of dope farms on public land, et al, will be greatly reduced. It will also do the human genome a whole lot of good. Because these dopeheads spawn like roaches."

Dante, you prove that Hitler's mentallity is still alive and well, bet you would have no problem putting the dopers in an oven while you drink your booze. You're a disgrace.

Tim

It's been great fun reading all of these entries. Here's my 2 cents--to everyone that says "everyone would just grow their own"--have you actually ever tried growing it? It's not like you can just throw a couple seeds into the ground and "6-8 weeks later" you are all set.
Seriously, go read a book. You are looking at three months at least, not to count the couple weeks it would take to dry the crops out fully.

And what about people who live in colder states? No growing yearround, unless you have an indoor growing area set up, and not everyone can rush out and buy the correct lighting required to grow indoors (a nice light will run you $300 to $400).

I'm no longer a smoker, but I would love for someone to prove, without a doubt, that legalizing this would cause a harm to society.
My hopes are that as time goes on, and the older generation dies out, younger politicians will see this for what it really is--truly a joke. Show me a young and up-and-coming politician that still has these absurd thoughts on this subject.

NoCoNs

The comparison of alcohol and marijuana is completely irrational. There are by no means any adverse health affects of marijuana that are even comparable to that which alcohol can produce. And the fact of which is that if marijuana were to be legalized and regulated, not grown or sold by the big tabacco execs but by the people who have been and know what they are doing (not adding deadly chemicals to a harmless substance), locally regulated dispenseries and smoke shops, there would be no need for government money on adverse health effects. And the 4.50 to 1.00 ratio is absurd when that estimate is directly related to people being jailed for long term on alcohol-related crime and deaths. The people in jail and prison for marijuana issues are small time personal users and growers, and all of which would be irradicated and lower government spending on those people by more than $3 billion a year. Marijuana should be legal, end of story.

ron

I think legalizing marijuana, in this country would be a plus for the economy, and the police could leave pot heads alone, and focus on real crime, like murder, rape, etc. I can see cocaine and drug dealers getting busted, but to put a person in jail for smoking weed is a waste to taxpayers' time. This country wouldn't have a deficit to worry about, because the taxes they could make from legalizing marijuana would be a lot. It's about time this country does something positve about the marijuana laws. More and more states have medical marijuana and all the rest should join in and do the same.

Kevin

Great article! I have to side with the Pro side of this argument. The con side is just full of too many holes. First, if marijuana were to cause so much harm in medical bills for the government, wouldn't this extra income be better than nothing at all? Did anyone consider the rediculous cost of pursuing and jailing users? Or that the health risks don't even remotely compare to alcohol? Or that marijuana has enormous medical potential? Did anyone consider the economic boost we would get from hemp, hemp oils, and hemp plastics as well as in food, movie, and video game industries?

Areyouserious

The law was made for the safety of mankind. I don't agree with every aspect of it, but seriously. I didn't read all of the posts because it started to become redundant. Marijuana is nothing compared to heroin or cocaine. Whoever says to legalize hard substances consists of people who are probably addicted to the stuff. It's absolutely ridiculous that we can't point out the facts. Alcohol causes many problems...it's a known fact.

LAKate

Having read both pro & con arguments, I have to question Bob's comments. I do understand the corelation, but question the facts backing up his arguments. How can we be assured that the dollars spent for alcohol abuse would be the same for MaryJane abuse? There is some argument regarding the wrong way freeway driver who was (supposedly) a regular MaryJane user as well as (supposedly) under the influence of alcohol, who killed many innocents, but the vast, and I do mean vast, majority of users do so as responsible adults. The kind of responsible user that when out and about call cab. Legalization presents many issues on many levels, so why not just decriminalize? I believe that Hawaii, the Big Island, got tired of busting the home grower who had a plant or two on their apt balcony, so they decrimilized. Heck, choclate cake is bad for you in mass quantities--shall we crimilize the abuse of chocolate cake?

LAKate

The best part of this argument? It gets people thinking and talking. And sometimes when people come together for a discussion, peace happens.

Kitty

http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php Go to the link and read. Most of the questions ask will be answered.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--A group of police and judges who want to legalize drugs pointed to new FBI numbers released today as evidence that the "war on drugs" is a failure that can never be won. The data, from the FBI's "Crime in the United States" report, shows that in 2008 there were 1,702,537 arrests for drug law violations, or one drug arrest every 18 seconds.

"In our current economic climate, we simply cannot afford to keep arresting more than three people every minute in the failed 'war on drugs,'" said Jack Cole, a retired undercover narcotics detective who now heads the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "Plus, if we legalized and taxed drug sales, we could actually create new revenue in addition to the money we'd save from ending the cruel policy of arresting users."

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