More than 300 economists have signed a petition that urges advocates on both sides of the pot to engage in an “open and honest debate” about the prohibition on pot.
The petition quotes facts from Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron’s report that says if the government legalized marijuana, it would save $7.7 billion a year by not having to eforce the current prohibition; adding, legalization would earn the government an additional $6 billion per year, if the pot is taxed at the same rate as alcohol and tobacco.
“At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition,” the petition states.
Most economists agree the government could be the biggest winner in the legalization of pot, but economist Stephen Easton believes the government’s profit could be far higher than Miron’s estimates.
In an article for Businessweek, Easton wrote that he thinks the government could profit from the production of marijuana, as well. Easton believes that legalization could bring in $45-$100 billion per year.
In 2010, California Democratic State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill that would legalize pot. The state had a huge deficit. Ammiano argued that the legalization of pot would help the state’s unbalanced budget. Voters ultimately shot down the bill.
Currently, 16 states in the U.S. have legalized the use of medical marijuana, according to medicalmarijuanaprocon.org. Those states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, new Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.