Social Question

InspecterJones's avatar

Can legalizing pot save our economy and will it ever happen?

Asked by InspecterJones (1047 points ) May 12th, 2010

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days while reading about the current state of Greece. Today’s article in the New York Times talks about how America is on its way to a similar debt situation. Without some sort of new taxes or decrease in spending, in a decade we are gonna have a pretty tough situation here.

According to this report legalization of pot would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.

So what do you guys think? Will this ever happen? How bad of an economic state needs to happen before people realize its worth doing?

I’m of the opinion that if alcohol is legal then pot should be too, but more so then that, I don’t think we can afford to give up on a swing of $14 Billion annually. Doesn’t really put a dent in our potential debt of a trillion dollars but its something.

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30 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

I think it would an economic multiplier the likes of which not ever seen before. Aside from the dollars collected from taxation of the pot, there would be the jobs created from the manufacturing of the pot whatever which generates payroll and more corporate taxes. Plus the residual effect of all of a sudden millions of people getting the munchies the snack food industry would explode which would me millions more jobs and huge corporate profits and of course more tax dollars.

InspecterJones's avatar

@Cruiser Agreed, but, will it ever happen is the question?

tinyfaery's avatar

CA will vote on legalizing marijuana for recreational use in November. I guess we’ll see. And as the saying goes: as goes California, so goes the rest of the country.

bongo's avatar

I think it is also very important to look at the costs from increased use of a drug: if you look at the amount alcohol costs the US in indirect costs such as through people missing work, accidents, increased health problems leading to healthcare costs
no wait US doesnt have an NHS!
but im sure legalization of cannabis would not be as beneficial to the economy as it first might seem.
But wouldnt it be nice to smoke legally! I doubt it will fully catch on mind but nice idea.

tinyfaery's avatar

Marijuana does not have as many negative health effects as alcohol.

bongo's avatar

oh i know i was just saying that from those figures it looks fantastic but it will have quite a few added negatives. Im all for the legalization mind, I just with UK would follow suit from California.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think pot will be legalized, and I don’t think most people think the economic advantage will be considered.

Cruiser's avatar

@InspecterJones I doubt it for 2 main reasons…pot smokers are not well organized as a political lobbying force and secondly the term “pothead” perpetuates a stereotype that is largely frowned upon and will lump potsmokers into a category of unreliable’s that will take some time to overcome and gain mainstream acceptance.

InspecterJones's avatar

@bongo If you look at alcohol use during it’s little stint as an illegal substance and then after it was legalized, use actually decreased. Not only that but related deaths and injuries decreased as well, regulations and age limits are wonderful things. After it was legalized it also got more difficult for people to get who were under the age limit. That aside, pot effects are way less severe then alcohol, there have been studies that even say that people who are stoned drive slower and more carefully then when sober and the leading cause of death as related to alcohol use is…yea, exactly.

InspecterJones's avatar

@Cruiser Money is a pretty strong driving force though, I’m kind of hopeful I guess, not so much for it being legal, but for the potential boom to our economy.

CaptainHarley's avatar

My views on the legalizaton of marijuana have taken a 180 degree turn over the years. I see no evidence that marijuana is any more of a “gateway drug” than, say, cigarrettes. Yet the number of young people in jail or getting fined for having an ounce of it in their possession is very high. I think that marijuana use and possession will be legalized within the next few years, but I seriously doubt the tax revenue + savings on enforcement will be adequate to make much of a dent in our national debt. Austerity seems to be the only way out.

lilikoi's avatar

I think it is only a matter of time.

jazmina88's avatar

california is liberal…..but many politicians are those conservative types. here in KY, they dont expand gambling in horse country.

It’s a great idea but it will take a long long time to change the minds of the closed.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I believe pot will eventually be legalized. I don’t think it will have as big an economic impact as most government agencies predict. If it is legal the price will plummet as producers and distributors won’t have to pay for lost product due to government seizures.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

There would be additional savings from the government spending less money enforcing a foolish law that treats cannabis as a narcotic. The underground economy supporting the production, importation and distribution would weaken those who traffic in more dangerous substances.

deni's avatar

it certainly can. i dont think it will ever be legal nationwide though, so many people have been brainwashed into thinking what a terrible terrible thing weed is. money would be saved in other places too, like the money spent on housing people caught with pot (why are they living in jail cells with rapists and murderers…?), money spent putting up anti drug ads, money spent enforcing the law as @Dr_Lawrence said….yeah, it makes no sense. maybe someday they’ll realize what a waste of time and money criminalizing pot was.

HungryGuy's avatar

I don’t know about the economy, but it will be a boon for people with cancer and other diseases seeking an escape from the pain.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I don’t know about economic savings, the government would just waste the savings and revenue on some other silliness (start another war?). The real savings would be the lives not ruined by enforcement of the stupid prohibition laws.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it would take a lot for it to happen. Hemp can be used for so many other purposes. If marijuana was legalized, the people smoking it won’t be the only ones affected. For example, hemp can be used for clothes and paper and the cotton and paper mills really don’t want to lose that money.

evandad's avatar

No and yes

YARNLADY's avatar

The problem is somewhat equal to legalizing gambling. As long as the politicians are making so much money from the opposition in the form of political donations, they can’t afford to legalize it.

Ron_C's avatar

Fighting marijuana is a multi-trillion dollar business. There are whole government agencies, penal systems and their administrators, psychologists, drug cartels, religious organizations, border agents all make tons of money based on keeping drugs illegal. I suspect that the major legislators proposing this are likely to get whacked by any one of those groups.

It would be a good thing for the rest of us but we never get a vote on anything beneficial or important. I doubt that I will live long enough to see the change in the law. I’m not sure my grandchildren will.

Cruiser's avatar

@Ron_C You left out all the payoffs and bribes that grease the wheels of keeping pot illegal!!

Ron_C's avatar

@Cruiser Well, that’s the politicians, guards, lawyers, and religious “donations”

majorrich's avatar

how does marijuana affect driving?

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t think any one commodity could “save” our economy or even if our economy needs to be “saved.” It needs to be tweeked, I think, but it has a pretty strong pulse still.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I don’t think legalizing pot’s going to fix or even steady our economy, even if the revenue is twice what is estimated it’s not really going to make much of a difference, but you need to start somewhere, and I see this as a nice way to ease into it. You’d have the added bonus of less money wasted in the police/court/prison system, a slew of people suddenly without any sort of legal blemishes on their record making them more employable, not to mention having taken an extra step towards removing a set of, in my opinion unjust, laws off the books – which in and of itself is worth the effort. And who knows, at the end of the day, maybe a few people would learn to relax a little more, that’s always a good thing.

Ron_C's avatar

@wonderingwhy I never thought about the expunged records, that’s another great plus. Too bad that this will not happen. The conservatives are all about punishment. I expect that they would punish drinkers and other sinners if they could. The last thing they want is to relinquish what they feel is a moral with the right to punish.

mrrich724's avatar

I think the reason it hasn’t been legalized as of yet is b/c pot is too easy to grow, and because of that, too difficult to track and tax.

Also, legalizing it would probably come along with legalizing the ability for people to grow, and it’s sooo easy to grow, maybe it wouldn’t bring in that much money.

I think if it were more like alcohol . . . alot easier to spend a few bucks on a taxed bottle than to home brew, it would have already been legalized. Or even tobacco, which doesn’t grow so readily in your closet.

Also, I’m not sure it would be the great windfall on the American economy that people think. You know what would be better? Focusing on the government that is operating unconstitutional wars and the legality of that (illegality actually). The war in Afghanistan ALONE cost the US $18,000,000.00 PER DAY.

Ron_C's avatar

@mrrich724 You are probably right about pot being too easy to grow and control. I bet that if cigarette companies could find a way to corner the growing market, pot would be legal. Corporate control is the only way that anything, in today’s climate, happens.

If there was a way to centralize “green” power, we would have it. What frightens American and International corporations is loss of control of products, people, and governments. I have seen fuel cell systems, for instance that can get individual homes off the grid, but doubt they will ever be “allowed”. The same goes for high mileage engines and healthcare…anything that is now centrally controlled.

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