Friedman and others were acting in response to a 2005 report on the budgetary implications of marijuana prohibition by Jeffrey Miron, visiting professor of economics at Harvard. By Miron’s estimate, regulating marijuana would save about $7.7 billion annually in government prohibition enforcement — $2.4 billion at the federal level and $5.3 billion at the state and local levels.
That’s a lot of money for English tutors and health care for indigents. Add to that amount income taxes that would have to be paid by marijuana producers. Drug dealers don’t pay taxes, after all. Nor do they concern themselves much with rules of the workplace and worker welfare. Miron argues that legalizing marijuana would not increase use because decriminalization hasn’t increased use. But, he says, legalization would reduce crime by neutralizing dealers and eliminating the violent black market.
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