NY Times: End Pot Prohibition

From The New York Times:

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

There is honest debate among scientists about the health effects of marijuana, but we believe that the evidence is overwhelming that addiction and dependence are relatively minor problems, especially compared with alcohol and tobacco. Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide.

From New Approach Oregon:

A comprehensive analysis released … by ECONorthwest, one of the most respected independent economic forecasting firms in the country, has found that marijuana regulation in Oregon would generate $38.5 million in excise tax revenue in the first year. In the first biennium, it would generate $78.7 million.

The study, the most thorough to date, specifically examines regulated sales of marijuana under the “Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act” that Oregonians are expected to vote on in November 2014.

The analysis is conservative and it does not examine the amount that would be saved by courts, police and jails because marijuana penalties would be eliminated. Over the last decade, nearly 100,000 people have been cited or arrested for marijuana.

Under the measure, 40 percent of the tax money collected would go to schools; 35 percent would go to state and local police; and 25 percent would go to drug treatment, prevention and mental health programs.

An earlier study by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron found that regulating marijuana sales in Oregon would save about $71 million in government expenditures.

In the first 10 days of marijuana sales in Washington, the state has taken in $318,000 in excise taxes.

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