Wednesday, June 08, 2005


While I am not a marijuana user, I believe it isn't much more dangerous than alcohol. The conspiracy theorist in me likes to believe that when the "decorticator" was invented earier in the last century as a way to quickly and efficiently separate the usable from the unusable parts of the hemp plant, hemp would have become the nation's biggest cash crop... But William Randolph Hearst and others who had large investments in the timber industry found ways to demonize hemp, thus the "reefer madness" stuff in the 1930's. Hemp paper is of superior quality to that made from wood, in that it contains less acid (it won't yellow like paper made from conifers). Hemp fiber can be used for making clothing and rope. It is a versatile plant, and the kind that has industrial uses won't get people high...

Anyway, I think our society's fear of hemp (demonized as "marijuana") is irrational, and that it originated when wealthy folks didn't want their own cash crops to face competition.

The following is from :

Milton Friedman, 500+ Economists Call for Marijuana Regulation Debate; New Report Projects $10-14 Billion Annual Savings and Revenues

Savings/Revenues Projected in New Study by Harvard Economist Could Pay

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS -- In a report released today, Dr. Jeffrey Miron, visiting professor of economics at Harvard University, estimates that replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation similar to that used for alcoholic beverages would produce combined savings and tax revenues of between $10 billion and $14 billion per year. In response, a group of more than 500 distinguished economists -- led by Nobel Prize-winner Dr. Milton Friedman -- released an open letter to President Bush and other public officials calling for "an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition," adding, "We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods."
Using data from a variety of federal and state government sources, Miron's paper, "The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition," concludes:

**Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of legal regulation would save approximately $7.7 billion in government expenditures on prohibition enforcement-$2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels.

**Revenue from taxation of marijuana sales would range from $2.4 billion per year if marijuana were taxed like ordinary consumer goods to $6.2 billion if it were taxed like alcohol or tobacco.

These estimates may be conservative. Because available data is incomplete, assumptions necessary to produce national estimates inevitably allow for some variation up or down. For example, Miron's report does not include estimates for certain potential savings -- such as the likelihood of fewer criminal justice referrals of marijuana offenders to drug treatment and reduced prison costs stemming from persons on parole or probation being reincarcerated after positive urine tests for marijuana. In addition, Miron based his figure for corrections costs stemming from marijuana prohibition on an estimate that one percent of state prisoners are imprisoned for marijuana- related offenses. A report released May 18 by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy put the figure at 1.6 percent, acknowledging that tens of thousands of Americans are incarcerated in state or federal prisons for marijuana offenses.

While Miron notes that many factors beyond costs and tax revenues would need to be considered in evaluating possible changes in marijuana laws, he said, "These budgetary impacts should be included in any rational debate about marijuana policy."

Those impacts are considerable, according to officials of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. For example, $14 billion in annual combined annual savings and revenues would cover the securing of all "loose nukes" in the former Soviet Union (estimated by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb at $30 billion) in less than three years. Just one year's savings would cover the full cost of anti-terrorism port security measures required by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. The Coast Guard has estimated these costs, covering 3,150 port facilities and 9,200 vessels, at $7.3 billion total.

"As Milton Friedman and over 500 economists have now said, it's time for a serious debate about whether marijuana prohibition makes any sense," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "We know that prohibition hasn't kept marijuana away from kids, since year after year 85% of high school seniors tell government survey-takers that marijuana is 'easy to get.' Conservatives, especially, are beginning to ask whether we're getting our money's worth or simply throwing away billions of tax dollars that might be used to protect America from real threats like those unsecured Soviet-era nukes."
Dr. Miron's full report, the open letter to public officials signed by more than 500 economists, and the full list of endorsers are available at

With more than 17,000 members and 120,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP works to minimize the harm associated with marijuana -- both the consumption of marijuana and the laws that are intended to prohibit such use. MPP believes that the greatest harm associated with marijuana is imprisonment. For more information, see


Blogger Snave said...


The following isn't getting much airtime on American news, as one might expect. Heaven forbid such a movement should ever start here!

If marijuana was decriminalized, taxed and regulated, maybe our government would use the money to combat REAL drug problems, like the rampant manufacture and use of methamphetamines.

Do people in the US really need to go to jail for smoking a joint?

"Vancouver may urge Canada to legalize marijuana"
08 Jun 2005

Source: Reuters

By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 8 (Reuters) - Vancouver, the West Coast city whose drug-treatment programs have drawn the wrath of U.S. officials, may press the Canadian federal government to legalize and tax marijuana, officials said on Wednesday.

Regulating marijuana as a legal substance would recognize that society allows its widespread use, despite the laws, and let drug counselors use the same type of programs now in place to fight alcohol abuse and tobacco smoking, backers of the idea said.

"It would allow us to control a drug that is not presently being controlled," said Mayor Larry Campbell, a former police office and coroner, who has long advocated treatment programs as the best way to combat illegal drug use.

The recommendation that Canada's third-largest city support changes to the country's drug laws is part of a comprehensive anti-drug strategy report released on Wednesday. The city's council will consider the plan over next several months.

Parliament is reviewing legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, while toughening penalties for growing or selling the drug. Possession of small amounts would be punished with a fine.

Campbell said Ottawa's plan will not curb illegal drug-trafficking, and sends a conflicting message that it is okay to use marijuana, but not buy or grow it for home use.

Vancouver was the first North American city to have a government-sanctioned injection site for addicts, a program begun in 2003 to fight long-standing drug problems in its gritty Downtown Eastside neighborhood.

The city's treatment program and the federal government's marijuana decriminalization proposal have been criticized by U.S. drug officials as examples of Canada becoming lax in the battle against illegal drugs.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police anti-drug official quickly condemned Vancouver's legalization plan. "I'm not sure how legalizing it is going to make people use it less," Staff Sgt. Chuck Doucette told a radio interviewer.

Vancouver, with a population of about 2 million in its greater metropolitan area, already has a reputation for taking a more easy-going attitude toward marijuana use than the rest of Canada. A handful of cafes in Vancouver cater to pot smokers even though the drug remains illegal.

Marijuana-growing is a major illegal industry in British Columbia, with reports estimating it has a more than C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) annual impact on the province's economy. Much of the potent "B.C. Bud" produced in the Pacific Coast province is smuggled into the United States.

($1=$1.25 Canadian)

10:51 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Not sure if you're aware of it, but 'Grass' is an excellent documentary of the history of hemp-hating in this country. It also summarizes how ineffective the War on Drugs has been and many of the early findings regarding its use. Good stuff...the documentary, I mean...

10:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home