Meanwhile, economists have been making the beer argument. In a paper titled “Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition,” Dr. Jeffrey Miron of Harvard argues that legalized marijuana would generate between $10 and $14 billion in savings and taxes every year — conclusions endorsed by 300 top economists, including Milton “Free Market” Friedman himself.
And two weeks ago, when the Obama team asked the public to vote on the top problems facing America, this was the public’s No. 1 question: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”
I’m ambivalent about marijuana’s legal status, but I find this kind of thinking horrifying. I have no interest in criminalizing alcohol and tobacco, but they’ve been public health disasters, their lobbies have been much to powerful, and they’ve repeatedly targeted kids. Unleashing capitalism on the marijuana market and creating a marijuana industry would only create more problems. If marijuana is decriminalized, I would hope it’s done in a way that minimized the commercial marketplace for it–like keeping sale illegal, but allowing people to grow and possess their own.