Report: Taxpayers for Common Sense on Failed Anti-Marijuana Policy 7/8/05

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http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/394/taxpayers.shtml

courtesy NORML News, http://www.norml.org

Federal spending on marijuana-related activities -- primarily enforcing criminal policies prohibiting the drug's use -- cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion annually, but fail to influence the public's use or perception of the drug, according to an economic report released by the nonpartisan Washington, DC think-tank Taxpayers for Common Sense.

"Annual federal marijuana spending is at least $3.67 billion [per year], yet little evidence indicates this spending accomplishes the government's stated goal of reducing marijuana use," concludes the report. Of this total cost, the federal government spends $1.43 billion enforcing marijuana prohibition, $1.11 billion for marijuana use prevention (which includes funding for anti-drug media campaigns and school-based drug testing programs), $0.37 billion for marijuana treatment (which includes federal subsidies for drug abuse treatment programs), and $0.76 billion for marijuana-related policy research funding for activities designed to improve the efficacy of federal drug control policies.)

The report notes that the actual federal spending on marijuana-related policies is likely higher than $3.67 billion because the federal government no longer includes annual costs from federal agencies and programs that are not explicitly devoted to anti-drug activities (such as federal prison costs, salaries for federal law enforcement personnel, etc.). State and local spending on anti-marijuana programs and activities weren't tabulated in the report. Previous estimates published by the NORML Foundation and others place these costs at between $5 and $7 billion per year.

"The ultimate measure of the drug war's worth is its impact on drug usage. By this standard, the federal marijuana program has fared poorly," said Taxpayers for Common Sense Senior Policy Analyst Erich Zimmermann. "Despite spending billions of dollars over the years to enforce the prohibition of marijuana, use and perception of the drug are little different now than they were 30 years ago... Rather than continue to spend billions of dollars on the problem, it would be better for the US government to get out of the marijuana business entirely."

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Issue #394 -- 7/8/05

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