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End Drug Prohibition, Save $88 Billion a Year, Report Says

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #651)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy
The savings come in two forms: reduced criminal justice expenditures and increased tax revenues from the sale of legalized drugs.

According to Miron, drug legalization would save about $41.3 billion a year in enforcement costs. About $15.6 billion in savings would accrue to the federal government, while the states would see a savings of about $25.7 million.

Legalizing marijuana alone would net $8.7 billion a year in reduced law enforcement spending and increased taxes. Legalizing other currently illicit drugs would net another $32.6 billion.

Miron and Waldock estimate that drug legalization would generate about $46.7 billion in taxes, assuming that legal drugs were taxed at rates similar to those of alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana taxes would generate $8.7 billion in revenue annually, while taxing drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine would generate $38.0 billion a year.

The report contains data on all 50 states, as well as the federal level. That makes it useful not only as an analytical tool, but also gives it the possibility of being picked up by local media around the country since media outlets everywhere can take the local angle.

In an era when Washington is drowning in debt and politicians in state houses around the country are struggling to balance budgets, this report couldn't be more timely.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


HeadInTheSand (not verified)

No, legalizing all drugs is a bad idea. In fact, I understand that kids are now "huffing paint" to get high. We all need to move immediately to outlaw all paint products. Think of the children!

Thu, 09/30/2010 - 1:21pm Permalink
Anon (not verified)

In reply to by HeadInTheSand (not verified)

"No, legalizing all drugs is a bad idea. In fact, I understand that kids are now "huffing paint" to get high. We all need to move immediately to outlaw all paint products. Think of the children!"

I can't tell if this is a serious post, but if it is -

You're pretty funny.

Think about what you just said for a moment.

Let me break it down for you


"Legalizing drugs is a bad idea."

Drugs are illegal now, yes?

And you understand that kids are now 'huffing paint' to get high, yes?

So do you think kids would continue to huff paint to get high, if something safer is readily available? That's a stupid question, unless you honestly love huffing paint for it's high - you can bet no one will be huffing paint for a high anymore.

I'm not saying drugs are safe, but if you were to ask me (A person with experience with most any drug you can name)  I'd much rather smoke some weed (safe), snort some heroin or cocaine (if legal, there would be no impurities, this = safer than street drugs) or take some MDMA and go to a show, I'd much rather do any of those than huff paint or sharpies.



Tue, 10/05/2010 - 4:41pm Permalink
markem (not verified)

huffing paint has been around as long as paint has been around-basicaly forever. We need to teach our children well, NOT out law everything!  There will ALWAYS be a way for anyone who wants to to get high. Huffing paint is one of the worst ways to do get high (serious death risk). Someone who is determined to get high would be much safer if pot was legal and available.

Thu, 09/30/2010 - 2:50pm Permalink
tempname_42198 (not verified)

I agree with the proposal to legalize and tax all/specific drugs especially 'weed'.  But IMO, this would be seen by local law enforcement and county judges as a blow to their ability to achieve revenues for their counties.  The fines alone, not to mention the state subsidies created through busting persons with whatever 'illegal drug', would be gone.  With this in mind, there would  be a definite increase in other arrests which could generate local revenues and add to jail populations.  It's like a 'catch 22' situation.

Sun, 10/03/2010 - 12:28pm Permalink
tempname_42198 (not verified)

I agree with ending drug prohibition yet  at a county level, drug bust revenues would disappear.  If this occurred then, IMO, local law enforcement and county judges would be seeing an increase in other 'monetary arrests'  for their ability to generate revenues from fines as well as subsidies awarded from the state.  It seems like a 'catch 22' situation. 

Sun, 10/03/2010 - 12:36pm Permalink
Ray (not verified)

I certainly resonate with this idea. I think the DEA doesn't want to do this - it would put them out of business, and so many more in the Law enforcment business. So many low-vibration, non-working ideas like drug enforcement are perpetrated by the low-vibration, short-sighted attachment lf so many to money and power (in reverse order, there..)

Take a look at the Netherlands, England and other countries with a better idea...

Fri, 11/12/2010 - 2:13am Permalink
Ray (not verified)

In reply to by Ray (not verified)

I didn't even mention the reduction in drug-based crime and redcution of our prison population and the cost of supporting that.  There are many ramifications to legalizing and sensibly controlling drugs which are now illegal. Geez, it works for Alcohol, Tobacco and prescription drugs.. why not the others?

Fri, 11/12/2010 - 2:19am Permalink

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