Marijuana's $42 Billion Question

Marijuana's $42 Billion Question
Posted by CN Staff on October 01, 2007 at 06:04:26 PT
By Quentin Hardy 
Source: Forbes Magazine 
USA -- The U.S. marijuana is a $113 billion annual business that costs taxpayers $41.8 billion in enforcement costs and lost tax revenues, according to a study to be published later Monday. The study, "Lost Taxes and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws," by Jon Gettman, contends that marijuana sales are mostly the province of teenagers and young adults. His numbers also imply that the industry is supported, in both demand prices, by a relatively few extremely heavy users.
The study used diverse sources including government studies, private research and even High Times magazine to determine that about 25 million Americans consume an estimated total of 31 million pounds of pot annually. The number of users, and the price paid for pot, have changed little over recent years, despite continual government interdiction and incarceration efforts, the study says. Based on government assumption that some 28.7% of U.S. gross domestic product ends up as tax revenue on a federal, state or local basis, the $113 billion could yield $31 billion in taxes. Assuming that marijuana offenses, which are 5.54% of all arrests, take an equal share of the country's $193 billion in annual criminal justice expenditures, Gettman finds another $10.7 billion in annual savings. Gettman, who has a Ph.D. in public policy from George Mason University and publishes extensively on the pot business, admits that his numbers are at best rough, but contends they represent an accurate study of what keeping pot illegal costs. "The real answers are somewhere inside the bands" of all the published studies, he says. "It would be interesting to see what the government did with another $42 billion." The report is available at: -- the Web site of The Bulletin of Cannabis Reform, Gettman's organization. Away from the headline numbers, a closer examination of Gettman's work carries a couple of interesting surprises. The annual 31 million pounds of pot consumed works out to a daily consumption equivalent by American pot smokers of 1.5 to 1.75 of the 85-by-25-millimeter (length and circumference, respectively) standard joint that the U.S. government rolls for in its studies. Most users don't fire up that much, however. Of the 25 million annual users, some 12.8 million people over the age of 18 use pot monthly, and about 23% of these smoke three or more joints a day. In this, marijuana seems much like the alcohol business, which relies on 20% of its consumers for more than half of its consumption. In addition, Gettman's work says that 54.8% of children aged 12-17 and 52.8% of adults over the age of 35 say marijuana would be easy for them to get. The number spikes by as much as 20 percentage points for people between those ages. In terms of drug selling, however, the numbers skew lower: According to a government study quoted in the report, 3.2% of kids 12-17 have sold drugs, while for those 18 to 24 the number is 6%. It falls to 2.3% for people 25 to 34, and to a mere 0.7% for the 35-and-over set. While this number applies to all drug sales, and not just pot, Gettman maintains that licit marijuana would drive many young dealers out of business. "Right now, kids buy from other kids," he says. "The fixed costs of entry are quite affordable for a 16-year-old. We don't have that structure in the liquor business. There is an economic incentive for a child to do this, and no control under the current regimen."Source: Forbes Magazine (US)Author: Quentin Hardy Published: October 1, 2007Copyright: 2007 Forbes Inc.Contact: readers forbes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #5 posted by Yanxor on October 01, 2007 at 12:53:59 PT
Some apprehensions
Just thinking...But it would be harder to procure other soft drugs like mushrooms if cannabis was to be legalized...that would get rid of a lot of young dealers.Also, it seems very likely that cannabis might become a private buisness if its ever legalized, and if corporations have control over what we inhale, is it unreasonable that they will put in additives to make it more addictive and possibly more harmful to ones health.But to be fair...I wouldn't mind much the disruption of the underground drug market as long as one could grow their own plants and not have any fear of legal or paramilitary interference.
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Comment #4 posted by ekim on October 01, 2007 at 11:38:37 PT
Oct 8 07 Presentation at San Diego State 
Oct 8 07 Presentation at San Diego State ... James Gray San Diego CA 
 A former judge explains "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It" in this interesting event. Open to the public. 5500 Campanile Drive, ENS 280 CONTACT: Randy Hencken, randy_hencken
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Comment #3 posted by paul armentano on October 01, 2007 at 08:32:19 PT
More Numbers: 10 Million Americans Busted for Pot
10 Million Americans Busted for Pot: Enough is EnoughBy Paul Armentano, AlterNet. Posted October 1, 2007.Since 1990, over 10.4 million Americans have been busted for pot. When will we recognize it's time to stand up to the war on harmless pot smoking? would cops do without weed? For one thing, they'd sure spend a lot less time arresting and processing petty pot violators. How much time? For starters, however long it took to bust the estimated 739,000 Americans arrested for minor pot possession in 2006.READ THE FULL TEXT AT THE ABOVE LINK...
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Comment #2 posted by Richard Zuckerman on October 01, 2007 at 08:15:15 PT:
If the purpose of enforcing malum prohibitum laws is to install moral virtue, then perhaps we should install moral virtu into the federal government!!!"...$41.8 billion in enforcement costs and lost revenues"? That amount of money could have gone to the house the homeless or clean up toxic spills!It might be a non-issue if President Bush carries out his plan to invade Iraq!!! We might either be bankrupted or invaded by China and/or Russia, if President Bush invades Iran! Iran is right next door to Saudi Arabia. Vice President Dick Cheney, rock star Michael Jackson, Donald Trump, invest in Saudi Arabia. However, Saudi Arabia is reputed to fund terrorists throughout the world. Legalize Cannabis/"Marijuana"/Hemp and bring back electric cars, instead of invading Iran.On Friday, October 5, 2007, Amy Goodman will be at a seminar against the U.S. invasion of Iran, tentatively scheduled to be at the Rutgers University Student Center, on College Avenue, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Registration, attendance is FREE by logging on to and filling out the registration form on their web site! The seminars will last through Sunday, October 7, 2007, with speakers and workshops. in mind that Alex Jones claims on his internet streaming Alex Jones Radio Show,, that the international elite, Illuminati, are intentionally bankrupting the United States of America, even planning to raise the price of gasoline up to $200/gallon [while a direct oil pipeline to Israel is being built!], to force us to accept their planned "North American Union"/"Security and Prosperity Partnership" and to replace the U.S. dollar with the "Amero" currency!!!;; [download the audio clips to hear the comments by La Raza supporters stating they want to kill the White people and take over this country!!!]. The planned invasion of Iran and the "North American Union" dwarf the "Marijuana" laws in terms of which are more harmful to Americans!!! I'm not being "racist", either!Richard Paul Zuckerman, P.O. Box 159, Metuchen, New Jersey, 08840-0159, richardzuckerman2002;,
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Comment #1 posted by RevRayGreen on October 01, 2007 at 06:47:53 PT
The thing about numbers
they don't lie. 
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