Smart News About Pot

Smart News About Pot
Posted by CN Staff on June 02, 2005 at 14:18:25 PT
By Mike Millard
Source: Boston Phoenix
USA -- 500-plus economists can't wrong. Right? Seems a slew of them have finally decided what most of us have known for a long time: that pot prohibition "has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm." A report just released by visiting BU economics professor Dr. Jeffrey Miron and endorsed by more than 500 of his peers offers yet another commonsense critique of current marijuana policy. This time, the issue is framed in terms — dollars and cents — that even conservatives can understand. Some of them, including Nobel Prize-winner Dr. Milton Friedman, have seen the light. Will the Bush administration? Don't count on it.
In The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition, Miron finds that by instituting a system of regulation and taxation for pot similar to those in place for alcohol and tobacco, the money that would be saved in expenditures and gained in tax revenue is considerable: between $10 billion and $14 billion annually. That's real money that could be used to address real problems like gaps in homeland security, failing schools, and growing budget deficits. If it might help change GOP minds about our nonsensical drug laws, we suppose it could even fund tax cuts.Miron explains his methodology: "We can easily determine the expenditure by state on police, on judges and prosecutors, and on prisons. We have a reasonable sense of what fraction of arrests are for marijuana charges, what fraction of prosecutions are for marijuana violations, etc." After crunching the numbers, he found that replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of regulations would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures: $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels."On the tax revenue side, there are estimates available from some standard sources on the size of the marijuana market," Miron says. "Then I used other information about how much demand would likely change, based on how much the price would likely change, to estimate revenues." He found that taxing legalized pot could reap $2.4 billion each year if the drug were taxed like standard consumer goods — and perhaps $6.2 billion annually if it were taxed like alcohol or tobacco."This is not a trivial amount of money," Miron says. "This is $10 billion, not $10 million. Clearly, we should care about what the ramifications are of having a policy that's spending that kind of money."In fact, says Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, Miron's estimates may be on the conservative side. The study doesn't take into account the money that might be saved when pot smokers won't have to be referred to drug treatment programs, or when parolees aren't reincarcerated for testing positive for marijuana use. Also, Miron worked on the assumption that just one percent of state prisoners are in jail for marijuana violations. The White House's own Office of National Drug Control Policy puts that figure at 1.6 percent. At any rate, Mirken says, "it's a considerable amount of money — on enforcing a policy that clearly does not work."While Mirken recognizes that the study is simply "one more step" in the advancement towards more sensible drug laws, he thinks it's significant that it frames an old issue in new terms. "Conservatives are starting to really have the conversation about whether we're getting our money's worth," he says. "Is this an expenditure that makes any sense? Eighty-five percent of high school seniors have been telling government survey takers that marijuana is easy to get for 30 years, virtually without change. That's a sign that what we're doing is not working. And when you put that together with what adds up, over a period of years, to hundreds of billions of dollars, maybe there's other things we can do with that money."He cites specifics. "Here's a hunk of money that, in two and a half years or so, could secure all those loose nukes rattling around the old Soviet Union. All the port security measures that have been put in place would be taken care of with a year's worth of savings alone — let alone the tax revenue. This is a serious amount of money and it's time to have a conversation about whether we're pouring it down a rat hole."Still, he says, "I think the people running drug policy in the present administration are ideologues who aren't going to be changed by anything. If Jesus came down from heaven and told them to rethink our marijuana laws, they'd say he was bought off by the drug legalizers."Miron agrees. "I think [conservatives'] concerns are more in terms of the message or symbolism attached to saying certain things are legal or not legal." On the other hand, he says, "I think a lot of conflicted conservatives say, 'Gee, if alcohol and tobacco are legal, maybe we should think about whether certain illegal drugs should be legal."So even though we're finally speaking their language, one shouldn't expect to soon be able to walk down to the corner packie and buy a six-pack and a spliff.Miron just laughs. "No, I don't think that's gonna happen any time soon."See the full report at: Also visit: http://www.marijuanapolicy.orgSource: Boston Phoenix (MA) Author: Mike MillardPublished: June 2, 2005Copyright: 2005 Phoenix Media Communications GroupContact: letters Website: Related Articles:The High Cost of Prohibition Friedman: Legalize It!
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #11 posted by jose melendez on June 02, 2005 at 22:03:04 PT
Riley omits, avoids truth AGAIN! the Associated Press reports: "Treatment rates for marijuana nearly tripled between 1992 and 2002, the government says, attributing the increase to greater use and potency. 'This report is a wake-up call for parents that marijuana is not a soft drug,' said Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
 'It's a much bigger part of the addiction problem than is generally understood.'"
 He forgot to mention the reason so many young "addicts" have sought treatment for marijuana dependency: It's their only alternative to prison. Proof Riley is Lying, although marijuana is a much smaller contributor to crime than heroin or crack, 58 percent of treatment admissions where the primary drug of abuse was marijuana were criminal justice system referrals. By comparison, only 13 percent of heroin treatment admissions and 26 percent of crack admissions were criminal justice system referrals.The likely explanation for the higher marijuana figure is the large number of young individuals who enter treatment programs as part of a plea bargain or pretrial negotiations. study of FBI data by a Washington-based think tank, the Sentencing Project, found that the proportion of heroin and cocaine cases plummeted from 55 percent of all drug arrests in 1992 to less than 30 percent 10 years later.During the same period, marijuana arrests rose from 28 percent of the total to 45 percent.Coming in the wake of the focus on crack cocaine in the late 1980s, the increasing emphasis on marijuana enforcement was accompanied by a dramatic rise in overall drug arrests, from fewer than 1.1 million in 1990 to more than 1.5 million a decade later. Eighty percent of that increase came from marijuana arrests, the study found." . . . use of heroin among 12th graders increased 36 percent (from 1.1% to 1.5%) and snorting or smoking as the route of administration increased 60 percent (from 1.0% to 1.6%). NOTE: This increase in heroin use for 12th graders may be a cohort effect, reflecting the aging of the 8th graders of 1996, who showed increased heroin use for that year." mtf2000.ppt
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by runderwo on June 02, 2005 at 18:22:42 PT
Something else that just occurred to me is that since this is a UK article, you may have the intentional conflating of pure cannabis with a cannabis/tobacco mix. Of course there will be more health problems with the latter...
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by runderwo on June 02, 2005 at 16:40:27 PT
The links got screwed up. Remove the ) from the end of them after you click in your browser.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by runderwo on June 02, 2005 at 16:38:00 PT
Cannabis damages sperm
I always found this claim funny. Are they trying to say cannabis is an effective contraceptive? Isn't that a good thing?For some reason the "E-mail Dr Thomas" link doesn't work for me so it's impossible to bring the sillier points of his article to his attention, such as the various claims that cannabis damages the brain, lungs, heart, sperm, unborn babies, bones, and causes poor grades, slow thinking, and road accidents.Of this set of claims, only one would affect other people, and since the tests were conducted post mortem instead of in a controlled experiment, I'm certain alcohol or prescription drug use was not isolated nor were the operators even knokwn to be intoxicated at the time. They probably just found THC metabolites in the blood of some percent of operators and concluded that cannabis was a causal factor in the accidents where it was found. Was the general population sampled for THC metabolites as a control? And never mind the serious research, even by vested interests such as the US Highway Patrol, that has refuted this claim time and time again.The other claims have been refuted over and over again. It amazes me how some very intelligent people distrust science so much.Cannabis damages sperm? Cannabis harms fetuses? Okay, even if this were true (see for links to all the research), so does alcohol and tobacco. Are we recommending that drinkers and tobacco smokers, and especially pregnant mothers, be thrown in jail too?Cannabis causes poor grades and slow thinking? Ever been around a smoker who needed a cigarette? How about a drinker after a few drinks? They are slow thinkers... therefore they should be put in jail too right? As for poor grades, nobody here is recommending that schoolchildren be allowed to use cannabis, and in fact one of the axioms of legalization is that the regulated market will do a better job carding youths than the black market.Cannabis damages bones? Get back to me when you have data outside of animal testing. The best response I could come up with here is that lack of exercise and a poor diet damages bones, so I'm certain you would see the same result in people who smoke and drink to excess. People should not be put in jail for their excesses.Cannabis damages the lungs and heart? I have heard of an increased risk of heart attack in cannabis smokers immediately after smoking. This is intuitively due to the carbon monoxide in smoke which robs the heart muscle of its supply of oxygen. As for lung cancer: (, including a refutation of the existing study due to its poor methodology. And even amid the claims that cannabis and tobacco smoke are identical, nobody has been able to explain why cannabis smoke does not cause emphysema, obstructive lung disease, or stick to your clothes, hair, and possessions like tobacco smoke does. In any case, there exists few better arguments for more potent cannabis, because not only do you smoke less volume of material, but you inhale less carbon monoxide too! Both heart and lung risk are minimized; I can't believe this stupidity continues...His claim that cannabis is a risk factor for schizophrenia in 1/4 of the population leaves out a key detail: the risk only exists during the teenage years. I do think that this is an important area to pay attention to, but dumbass prohibs keep leaving out details to exaggerate the apparent problem. The rest of the supposed link between cannabis and schizophrenia is based on poor methodology and fails to identify cause and effect: ( ( is old news, and bunk. This person has an axe to grind against his fellow citizens, displays open contempt for scientific inquiry, and thinks the law should prevent you from doing things that might potentially harm yourself. His opinion is not worth the time of day.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by The GCW on June 02, 2005 at 16:37:53 PT
The Tree of Life IS being bought and sold.
The Tree of Life IS being bought and sold.Disobedient Christians want to make sure people do not have access to the Tree of Life.People that over come evil are granted to eat of the tree of life (see Rev. 2:7).Being "granted" by Jesus Christ is no small deal; it includes more spirutal nurishment than what those receive who do not over come evil.Those who are granted to eat of the tree of life willexpose evil;with it.People like George Bush, can not under any circumstances allow the public easy access to what will expose His dark evils.To heal the nations, which the leaves of cannabis can do (see the last page, Rev. 22:1-4), We must expose and remove evil.Those who are granted to eat of the tree of life are going to make the difference.As long as We do not let disobedient Christians exterminate the tree of life, We will expose them as the evil they are.The tree of life is Our blessing.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by The GCW on June 02, 2005 at 16:01:51 PT
Don't miss the point!!!
"So even though we're finally speaking their language, one shouldn't expect to soon be able to walk down to the corner packie and buy a six-pack and a spliff."That is kind of what is going on; We just are not paying taxes on it, since We buy it before or after the beer house where taxes are not with held.(No 1 stop shopping, but...)The superplant IS being bought and sold.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by runderwo on June 02, 2005 at 15:52:01 PT
"I think the people running drug policy in the present administration are ideologues who aren't going to be changed by anything."It's not just the present administration. In the 1970's, Nixon's advisory board recommended that cannabis be decriminalized. In the 1980's, Reagan's did the same. In the 1990's, the success of the Compassionate IND program forced a move to either discontinue it or to reschedule cannabis in order to resolve the contradiction; guess which one happened.Zealots will never go away. We just have to stop giving heed to their demands and stop putting them in a position of power over us.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by global_warming on June 02, 2005 at 15:43:07 PT
Will the real Dr Thomas Stuttaford stand up
Ooops, dea agent..Who can you trust?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by global_warming on June 02, 2005 at 15:26:44 PT
ot: file sharing
This current heavy burden on the backs of these judges in the Supreme Court of these United States, will codify into law, the status of file sharing.If it were not for the entertainment industry, there would not be a lot of noise on this subject. The many goods that file sharing have to offer, ride on the back of this information era, and the internet.A heavy hand by these justices, could ultimately mean that any communication between people would be illegal, talking could be banned in some hellish futuristic society.To me, I find this file sharing phenomena, another form of advertising, I recently purchased an album, that I would never have had the chance to hear, at least not in my demographics, were it not for some person who made it available for me to hear.I had the one song I liked, so why would I purchase the album? The music was sooo gooood, and having much respect for the artists, buying the album, was not to own some piece of plastic, but a simple payment, showing gratitude, to the efforts of these artists.The Cathedrals, Farewell Concert..Standing by the
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Hope on June 02, 2005 at 15:21:48 PT
This needs letters of refute,,8123-1636660,00.htmlReferring to Warnings Go Up In Smoke, the reason we don't believe them is because they're LIARS...they've been lying for years and years and years. They are lying because they’re prohibitionists and because they benefit from it. When they aren't lying, they're exaggerating and they completely ignore any studies with positive results.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by global_warming on June 02, 2005 at 14:37:28 PT
Every lawyer has
An Accountant, who has studied economics...This is about as grass roots as its going to get, can't get any greener..
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment