I just finished my Econ paper on marijuana. I will post it if anyone is interested in reading it. Its kind of long but oh well. If you read it please tell me what you think. Thanks \tRight now your tax dollars are being wasted and thrown away in a losing battle, its the war on marijuana. Each year the US government spends millions maybe even billions of dollars fighting the war on marijuana and even with all those millions of dollars being spent marijuana still flood the US. Also how can you win a fight when around 83 million or about 37% of the US population has tried it?1 You can't, no buts or what ifs, you can't. Lets look at some facts with marijuana's legal counterparts, alcohol and tobacco. In 1996 and estimated 110,640 people died from alcohol related deaths2 and 430,700 from tobacco3 while zero deaths have EVER been report from marijuana4. That is a startling fact since alcohol and tobacco are legal while marijuana still is very illegal. Both alcohol and tobacco are physically addictive while marijuana is not yet both are legal while the less harmful marijuana is made a schedule 1 drug. Lastly lets look at the medical uses all three of these drugs have. Tobacco has no medical value and is the leading non-natural cause of death in the US. Alcohol also has no medical effects. Marijuana on the other hand has many medical benefits, its is good pain killer, reduces pressure on the eyes for glaucoma sufferers and helps restore appetite in people who have lost weight from cancer or AIDS5. Those are just but a few of the many reason marijuana should be made legal, now lets take a in-depth look into the economic reasons marijuana should be made legal. We will look at three ways the legalization of marijuana would help the US economy, the war on drugs, the prison system and last the revenue raised from its legalization. \tThe White House first declared war on drugs 31 years ago. Three hundred billion dollars later and victory is still nowhere in sight. Six American presidents have fought the anti-drug war, yet despite the billions spent and hundreds of thousands that are in prison on drug charges that range from the real to the stupid. The US government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars doing so, and has passed new laws to make sure it will spend hundreds of billions more. The approach of the war on drugs is based on supply and demand. You try to block the supply of drugs coming into the country to make the cost of marijuana skyrocket, making it so most users are unable to afford it. But this strategy has not worked. Marijuana is as freely available on the streets as it ever - and cheaper. "If marijuana were available in public health clinics and in private clinics with physicians at $3 a joint, you would not have any reason in the world in Mexico to try and send it to the US" says US Senior District Court Judge John Kane of Denver.6 Not only is money being wasted on the war on drugs but so are federal agents. Recent legislation passed in the US Congress has granted $183 million to put 1,000 more agents on border patrols in the south to police the flow of narcotics from Mexico and Central America. Another bill grants $35 million to be spent to create five "high-intensity drug trafficking areas" to patrol the Texas border with Mexico.7 This is ridicules that we are putting so much money and man power into a losing battle when there are things in the US that could use the money such as the education system and welfare. The man power used to fight the war on drugs could be better used to help protect our country from more terror attacks. The point of the drug war was to keep evil drugs out of bodies of Americans but that has also failed. In a survey of drug use in The Netherlands where marijuana is legal it was published in 1999 only 15.6%8 had ever used marijuana while in American where is illegal that number is more then doubled at 36.9%. Shouldn't those numbers be reversed? No because it comes back to the days when you were a child and you did something just cause you were told no. It is the same thing with marijuana when it is illegal, most of its appeal cause from the fact that your doing something illegal and wrong. If the US government is still worried about the country becoming a nation of stoners then it should use the money from the drug war and use it to educate the country so they will be able to make educated choices if they want to use pot or not. Lastly the war on drugs is going to take a huge hit in the next couple of years. Canada, our neighbor to the north, is slowly but surly moving toward the legalization of marijuana. Marijuana is just months away from being decriminalized in Canada. This would mean the US government has two choices. Spend more money to fight the flood of marijuana that would be coming over the Canada US boarder or take the steps to decriminalize then legalize marijuana so the money saved from the war on drugs could be better used on our economy and not on this useless war on drugs. So why throw away billions of dollars and keep throwing away billions on a war of drugs that you will always be losing when the money could be taken and put toward more important and helpful areas. So many great things could get off the ground with the money used for the war on drugs. These billions of dollars could be turned around and be used to start up national health care or better the warfare system. We need to hold our chin up high and just admit defeat on the war on drugs and head in the opposite direction knowing everything that we can gain from it. \tA unforeseen problem that came with the war on drugs was the economic drain of the prison system. In the early 1990's when there was a surge on the fight against drugs many Americans were caught up in the battle and are being sent to prison for minor drug offenses. Your tax dolars are being used to pay for someone who is unjustly being kept in prison. Most of these people are just like you and me and instead of wanting a beer on a Friday night they want to spark up a J, and they should be put in prison for this? I don't think so. Marijuana arrests more than doubled since 1990 while, at the same time, the percentage of arrests for the sale and manufacture of cocaine and heroin fell by over 50 percent9. Drug arrests increased 31 percent since the beginning of the decade. Rising marijuana possession arrests are chiefly responsible for this overall rise in drug arrests. Marijuana arrests rose every year since 1991, reaching an all time high of 695,200 in 1997. Marijuana arrests increased 59 percent during this period. There have been more than 3.7 million marijuana arrests this decade, 83% of these arrests were for possession only. In 1997, there were 216,254 drug offenders in state prisons, of these, 92,373 were in for possession. Also in 1997, there were 55,069 drug offenders in federal prisons, out of these, 10,094 were in for possession10. That over 100,000 people in prison that shouldn't be. None of these people did anything wrong, all they wanted to do was smoke a little just like how many Americans want to drink a little. Filling up our prisons with all these people is a huge waste of money. Here is a sad fact. States spent $32.5 billion on Corrections in 1999 alone. To compare, states only spent $22.2 billion on cash assistance to the poor11. Since the start of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug users, the Federal Bureau of Prisons budget has increased by 1,954%. Its budget has jumped from $220 million in 1986 to $4.3 billion in 200112. That fact alone shows how much money is being wasted throwing people just like you and me in jail. Prisoners sentenced for drug offenses made up the largest group of Federal inmates (57%) in 2000. There is so much money that could be freed up form the prison system if marijuana was legal. A large portion of the money spent on the prison system is spent building new jails and prisons because of overcrowding, and most of the overcrowding is due to people going to prison for drug sentences. Despite the investment of more than $5 billion for prison construction over the past 10 years, the prison system right now operating at 32% over rated capacity, up from 22% at the end of 1997. The prosecution of simple Americans who like to enjoy some pot every once in a while has taken a huge priority over much more important issues such a education. California state government spending on prisons increased 30% from 1987 to 1995, while spending on higher education decreased by 18%13. From 1984 to 1996, California built 21 new prisons, and only one new university14. Now what is wrong with that picture? A lot I think. Maybe there wouldn't be this huge need for prisons and jails if money was used toward education and education of drugs, but no instead they just take more away from education when education is the key to keeping most of the population out of prison. And legalization of marijuana is what will free up the money needed to do this \tBiggest economic factor involved with the legalization of marijuana is the money that would be made. Legalization offers more advantages to the government and the people than just less crime, less drug use, etc. It would allow for the taxation and free market price of marijuana. The free market price of marijuana would be around 5 to 10 cents a joint, but in terms of intoxication levels, 1 joint is worth about 2 dollars of alcohol. This would enable the government to tax until it is the same price as alcohol. To get these prices, the government would put a harmful tax of around $.50-1.00 per joint. Harmful Tax is a tax on items to control their use to prevent abuse. Just this single tax could raise $2.2-$6.4 billion a year, saving tax payers at least that much or more. That is just one of the many taxes that could be put on marijuana to raise money for the government. Another way to do this would be to have a pack of marijuana joints cost the same as a pack of cigarettes. 20 joints would come in a pack that cost around $3.50. Somewhere around 1/4 of that money would go to the government as taxes. Another benefit of legalizing marijuana would be the cheaper price. Right now a ounce of good quality marijuana goes for $350. With the legalization of marijuana that price would be drastically lowered to about $100 a ounce after taxes. This would help many people with low incomes that still choose to buy marijuana. At a ounce a month they would save $3000 a year. Now we need to look at the jobs that would be open if marijuana was legal. Just from the farms alone thousands of jobs would be created. In tobacco states like the Carolina's and warm coast states like California and Florida would have most of these farms. Next many jobs would open at the processing and packing plants needed. Lastly many coffee shops would open all over the US a fair amount of new jobs all over the US and even more money could be generated from the sales tax that comes from these coffee shops. If marijuana is legalized it would become the new cash crop in the US. It is estimated that between 2,200-4,400 tons of marijuana would be grown commercial making is a serious competitor to tobacco. The international illegal drug business makes as much as $400 billion in trade, that amounts to 8% of all international trade.15 If even just 1/8 of that could be made each year with the legalization of marijuana it would be a huge boost to the economy. Also the legalization of marijuana would take money away from terrorist groups that make most of their income from illegal drug trade. This would lower the amount of money needed to defend out homeland. The legalization of marijuana open the flood gates for hemp use which is illegal because it contain very small amount of THC the active chemical in marijuana. Hemp would make huge amounts of money and help the environment too. Hemp is the duct tape of nature, hemp can be used to make virtually anything that is currently made of cotton, timber, or petroleum. Hemp cloth is stronger, longer lasting, more resistant to mildew, and cheaper to produce than cloth made of cotton. Hemp paper could replace paper from trees putting a stop to deforestation. Also hemp can be planted and harvested every year while trees on the other hand take decades to be replaced. In a July 1998 study issued by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky, researchers estimated that if Kentucky again became the main source for industrial hemp seed as it was in the past, the state could earn many economic benefits. If Kentucky had just one certified industrial seed producer, one processing facility and one industrial hemp paper-pulp plant it would create 771 new jobs and a estimated $17,600,000 for the state16. The hemp industry would be able to make as much between 10 to 15 billions dollars annually. Last the legalization of marijuana would save law enforcement and the judicial system somewhere around 9 billion dollars a year off marijuana arrests. Now lets look at the total amount gain by the legalization of marijuana- $2.2-$6.4-Excise Taxes, $.2-$1.3-Sales taxes, $6-$9-Law Enforcement Savings, $10-$15-Hemp Industry, $.2-$1.3-Money from â€œSpin Offâ€ things, $6-$10-Reduced hard-drug & alcohol use, $24.2-$43 billion = Total Government Saving a year! That is a huge sum of money that could be put into the economy if marijuana if legalized. Just imagine what could be done with 24 to 43 billion dollars. Areas such as education, that have been neglected and a need money could finally get it, things such as a national health care system could be started. Only good can come out of the legalization of marijuana. \tThe legalization of marijuana is what this country needs to get a huge boost out of the recession that its in. It seems that no wrong can come out of the legalization of marijuana, it creates new job and makes huge amounts of money. Marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol and tobacco because it is not addictive and is unable to kill you. Marijuana also has many helpful medical values with cancer and glaucoma patients. Legalization of marijuana would also be taking a step toward ending the losing fight that is the war on drugs. It would also stop the illegal drug trade and the problems it brings because there would be no point if it was legal here. Ending the war on drugs would allow billions of dollars to be used spent on something that could help our country instead of holding it down. With the legalization of marijuana there would be less money need to spend on the correctional system. People sent to prison for possession would be freed and would free up the much need space in the prisons. With more space in the prisons that means less prisions going to be built. With fewer people in prison there will not have to be as many taxes spent on the prison system. With almost 700,000 marijuana arrest each year this would take a lot of pressure of the prison system and free tax dollars. Around 9 billion dollars would be saved for the law enforcement and judicial systems on marijuana arrest. Last marijuana and marijuana related industries would make huge amounts of money in a variety of ways. Just Harmful tax alone the government would raise between 2 and 6.5 billions dollars. The hemp industry which is held back because of marijuana would explode and produce upward of 15 billion dollars because of it ability to produce many items. The jobs that would be created from the legalization of marijuana would huge. A whole new industry would be made and it would need many workers. Jobs would be made from farming all the way to processing. Jobs would also come from spin off business such as coffee shops. In total from marijuana businesses to the war on drugs the legalization of marijuana would be and amazing boost the US economy. All said and done marijuana would bring in anywhere from 30 to 50 billion dollars to the economy. I don't think there is any other product in the US that could produce that much money for the US economy. Marijuana and its sister hemp are a POT of gold waiting to be taken. The legalization of marijuana is a must if this country wants to boost its self economically big time. The first steps need to be taken so we can thrive in a economic wonderland.