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Marijuana: Pot Prohibition Costs $41 Billion a Year in Enforcement Costs, Lost Tax Revenues, Study Finds

Last week, the Chronicle reported on yet another record high number of marijuana arrests, with more than 800,000 people busted for pot last year. This week, a leading researcher put a price tag on marijuana prohibition: $41.8 million a year in law enforcement spending and lost tax revenues.

According to public policy and economic development analyst Jon Gettman of Drug Science, author of the report, Lost Revenues and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws, governments at all levels spend $10.7 billion on arresting, prosecuting, and punishing marijuana offenders. At the same time, by maintaining the policy of marijuana prohibition, those governments are forgoing an estimated $31.1 billion a year in lost tax revenues by keeping the $113 billion a year marijuana industry in the underground economy.

Gettman's analysis is based primarily on official government figures on US marijuana supply, prices, and arrests. Perhaps even more surprising than the costs associated with pot prohibition is the huge size of the domestic marijuana market, which Gettman pegs at more than 31 million pounds.

"This report documents a massive waste of taxpayer dollars in pursuit of eradicating a government-forbidden plant, and the financial waste hit all-time high levels last year, as the FBI just reported there were a record 829,627 marijuana arrests in 2006," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. "Prohibition has done nothing to reduce marijuana use, which remains at about the level it's been for decades, but prohibition has created a massive underground economy that's completely unregulated and untaxed. The parallels with Alcohol Prohibition in the 1920s, including the needless violence and a huge underground economy, are eerie."

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Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

MERP = Legalize . . but DO NOT tax Personal Cultivation

Kudos to Gettman. But DO NOT tax Personal Cultivation.

I have been "pushing" the "MERP" model for years. It would allow commercial licencing but it absolutely precludes any taxation, regulation or enforcement over personal cultivation.

Though many "monied" activists think this is radical most "grass root" activists thnk it is THE solution. In point of fact much of the "MERP" model parallels the same paridigm that is currently in place for personal production of beer and wine. It is not radical. But it is quite "sensi"-ble.

These two articles will give you a good overview of the MERP model:

The MERP Project
The Marijuana Re-Legalization Policy (MRP) Project

This is just a single plank from the "New Agenda for America." Read more at my website:

Yours in Freedom,

Bruce W. Cain

My 2 Cents

Legalizing is a good thing for this country as a whole, and I wish people who don't smoke would take a second and think on this, how often do you think a pot head hits their blunt, joint, bowl, or even apple bong, and says I'm gonna go rob a bank, or a store, someone or something else......Uh not true, we are gonna sit around continue to smoke, laugh at stuff that may not even be funny and repeat the process and eat whatever doesn't take too long to cook, and excel with our lives; because we are happy less stressed out people.You can blame that on your neighborhood crack heads..We pot heads don't hurt anyone, if anything pot heads are generous and would rather give than take. And as far as taxing our herb if it is legalized, I think the government makes too much money off it's people already, leave us alone, give us a shot at our Constitutional right "The pursuit of Happiness!"

Jessica K. Balzed

wrong place

As someone who does not use drugs I think your us versus them mentality is exactly what prhibitionists expect when they meet a "pothead." I know everyone likes to vent now and again but this is not a very diverse site when it comes to opinions on drug policies. We all think they're wrong and want them changed. If you want to vent go to the DEA contact site and send a friendly comment like the one here.

Only drunks drive under the influence!

How often do you hear on the news " a stoned person went over the center line hitting an on coming car, killing three people before hitting a telephone pole and killing himself!" I here similar stories like this on the news all the time except the person is a drunk driver, never have I heard of a baked person killing people in car accidents! Its perfectly legal to go to the liqour store and by a fifth of vodca, as long as you promise not to drive! (right) dont forget the ever so politeful, PLEASE dont drink and drive! How about dont FUCKIN drink and drive and legalize Marijuana!

Right place, right here, right now

As a citizen who does "use" somedrugs, I know that a good sense of humor is a good thing. By the way, everybody "use's" some type of drugs. Even the word ,"drugs", has been thoughly demonized.I also know that preaching to the choir can be a fun and valuable exercise.Telling it to the ONDCP and their enforcers is hopeless and dangerous.Diversity is now considered to be a terrorist concept in the demockracy. Did'nt you get the memo?

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