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Costs of cannabis prohibition is lot more potent than in the 70s
June 1, 2005 11:22 PM   Subscribe

The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition by Jeffrey Miron of Boston U.. So far, endorsed by 500+ economists, including Milton Friedman.

Key points:
*End prohibition and save $7.7 billion in govt. expenditure.
*Tax its sale, like alcohol, and generate $6.2 billion in revenue.
posted by daksya (79 comments total)

 
with $13.9 billion extra to spend, we could liberate er one additional country!
posted by mcsweetie at 11:25 PM on June 1, 2005


Are you kidding? $13.9 billion buys you an afternoon in Iraq.
posted by ori at 11:31 PM on June 1, 2005


Decriminilize everything but tax evasion.
posted by TimothyMason at 11:44 PM on June 1, 2005


Frankly, i'm surprised it's ONLY $6.2 billion in incremental revenue. With legally available marijuna, wouldn't you be able to "sin tax" the hell out of it, well above & beyond standard sales tax rates?
posted by jonson at 11:56 PM on June 1, 2005


jonson, $2.4 billion is the figure if it's taxed like regular goods. $6.2 billion if alcohol/tobacco-like tarriff. Considerations would include sustenance of black market. Since marijuana would be legal in general, people could just grow their own, in small-scale ops if taxes are too unwieldy.
posted by daksya at 12:12 AM on June 2, 2005


But guys, guys

You're forgetting one vital thing here. Cannabis is evil and bad, and and and... oh yeah, it leads to harder drugs (apparently).

Why can't you just do like Jesus and drink wine?
posted by flippant at 12:13 AM on June 2, 2005


More money to go to war with. I say it's a go! Let's get those Marlboro greens out and wave our american flags. With pride this time. Hell, Willie Nelson himself could fly an F14 over the airshow this year! Yeee Hawww
posted by Dean Keaton at 12:21 AM on June 2, 2005


i'm just not sure i agree with this. sure, i'm around people who smoke up and they're great folks... i don't have a problem with that. are you willing to trade legalization for regulation? i can go to the bar and spend $15 on 5 decent beers, but if pot were legal i feel like it would just milk the masses even more than the regulation of other "legal" drugs do now.

i just don't know... i love my pot smoking friends as much as anyone else, but keeping it illegal almost makes it better for people who enjoy it. out in the open, they'd pay out the ass for it and it probably wouldn't be as much fun.

it's sad that it's such an issue, too. i'm at a loss. but, given the war and the people in charge, i feel like those of us who value civil liberties and freedom to do with our bodies what we want should choose our battles wisely...
posted by teletype1 at 12:26 AM on June 2, 2005


"You see Greg, if we legalized marijuana, people would smoke it!"
-Greg Proops
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:34 AM on June 2, 2005


out in the open, they'd pay out the ass for it and it probably wouldn't be as much fun.

im no expert on pot, cigarrettes, economics, or heck, much at all but this i can figure out pretty quickly:

an 1/8 an ounce of marijuana goes for $50-60 here in California. lets pretend that a machine, like the ones that roll tobacco cigarettes can turn 1/8 ounce of weed into a 20 "joints".

if you legalized weed and sold it at less than half the street price that it is today, $27.50 a pack, the stoners would be getting a hell of a deal, and the state would raise a hell of a lot more money than $6.2 billion because you'd be putting a $20-$24 tax on every $2 pack of herb.

and everyone knows that once America legalizes it, many other parts of the world would too, and the export market would be the real prize in all of this enlightenment.

but what does this administration care about raising monies for anything other than its own re-election coffers?
posted by tsarfan at 12:43 AM on June 2, 2005


I'm not so sure that it would generate all that much tax money. I kind of doubt people would be buying joints rolled by a machine with mass-yield weed inside. You could get much better quality growing it on your own or, just as many are doing now, from a friend of a friend growing it in his basement. Legalization would just allow the homegrowers to come out of the closet, and the product under the radar wouldn't be taxed at all.

In other words, if say Marlboro came out with rolled and boxed joints (this is in the planning stages, according to one urban legend), would you buy those or continue getting that really high-quality kind bud with the purple crystals that only takes one hit and your like Keanu all whoa and....

...but I digress. I'll stick with the latter. *ahem* of course, that's if I, erm, actually smoked, *ahem*
posted by zardoz at 1:02 AM on June 2, 2005


People could also just grow their own tobacco.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:03 AM on June 2, 2005


Why is anybody even surprised by this? It's blindingly obvious. It's for this reason that I support the decriminalisation (but regulation) of every single drug. Yes, that includes crack cocaine, horoin, MDMA, the lot.

Restrict who can sell them, restrict where they can be used, and tax the hell out of them. But nobody will ever convince me that criminalizing drugs isn't just completely bonkers.
posted by salmacis at 1:04 AM on June 2, 2005


I read here that one marijuana cigarette has been shown more damage to your lungs than 10 (yes, ten) tobacco cigarettes. If legalizing marijuana has the effect - and I think it will - of creating a lot more habitual users, we're going to wind up with a lot of people with lung cancer in a matter of decades; will the cost on our economy of caring for these people outweigh the tax benefit of legalizing marijuana?

Hard to say, I guess, but one would be silly IMHO not to consider the longer term effects.
posted by joshuaconner at 1:09 AM on June 2, 2005


i recently had this argument with some friends, and i held the same stance, salmacis. but what they kept coming back to was the addictive nature of crack and what lengths crackheads go to get their drug of choice. they argued that legalizing crack would lead to an increase in addiction which would directly cause an increase in crime. we didn't even get into heroin. but are they on to something, or are they projecting stereotypes? something to think about.
posted by Igor XA at 1:10 AM on June 2, 2005


gah, "shown TO DO more damage to your lungs."
posted by joshuaconner at 1:11 AM on June 2, 2005


joshuaconner: I read here that one marijuana cigarette has been shown more damage to your lungs than 10 (yes, ten) tobacco cigarettes.

Moot point. Cannabis need not be smoked. The only reason, popular method of cannabis delivery, is via smoking, is because cannabis on the black market is an illegal organic product. No (commercial) enterprise, in the US, is legally entitled to develop nontoxic administration. They need a DEA license to even possess the cannabis, and they would be selling a device for a product that's illegal and cannot be advertised (the plant and the device). No basement grower can develop such a device, and cartels won't go to unnecessary trouble for a product that's already readily consumed without such accessories.

Nontoxic cannabis devices can be developed; one will be in the Canadian pharmacies very shortly, if not already: Sativex, a whole cannabis-extract from GW Pharma in UK. Once legalized, it'd take, 2 years at most, to come with a more recreational-user-friendly device.
posted by Gyan at 1:22 AM on June 2, 2005


From the same site, different page:
According to NORML, traditional medications cannot provide symptomatic relief as effectively as medicinal marijuana, especially for serious illnesses such as AIDs, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain. A drug called Dronabinol (trade name Marinol) is a legal, synthetic THC alternative to marijuana, but "many patients claim they find minimal relief from it, particularly when compared to inhaled marijuana," asserts NORML. A 1999 report by the U.S. IOM concluded, ""It is well recognized that Marinol's oral route of administration hampers its effectiveness because of slow absorption and patients' desire for more control over dosing... In contrast, inhaled marijuana is rapidly absorbed."
So while I see your point, Gyan, I don't think my point is entirely moot either.
posted by joshuaconner at 1:29 AM on June 2, 2005


Igor XA:but what they kept coming back to was the addictive nature of crack and what lengths crackheads go to get their drug of choice. they argued that legalizing crack would lead to an increase in addiction which would directly cause an increase in crime.

Most "cocaine-related violence" is not committed under the influence of cocaine. Jacob Sullum, in his book Saying Yes, points out

"An analysis of New York City homicides committed in 1988 and identified as "crack-related" found that 85% grew out of black-market disputes, while about 7 percent occurred during crimes committed to support a crack habit. Only one homicide out of 118 involved a perpetrator who was high on crack."

Also, note that according to National Comorbidity Survey (1992), 17% of cocaine users are 'dependent', as opposed to 15% of alcohol users. I've read a figure of 8% elsewhere, but the source wasn't cited, so caveat lector. Even an epidemiological review in the journal Addiction notes that about 5-6% of cocaine users can be defined as 'addicted' within 24 months of first use. I'm certainly not suggesting that cocaine is innocuous, but the risk profile of cocaine is not orders of magnitude over alcohol, but in the same ballpark, if not a bit less. There are a few ways to reduce the addiction and health risk of cocaine. Most notably, to provide a delivery mechanism that doesn't spike blood levels of cocaine, like the coca tea that is consumed (legally) today in Andean countries, or Coca Cola going back to its roots, or to take up Andrew Weil's suggestion, chewing gums with small amounts of cocaine.
posted by Gyan at 1:40 AM on June 2, 2005


thanks, Gyan. i wish i'd had this info earlier to bring to the table.

and joshuaconner, there are other forms of rapid absorption, like injection. so why does it have to be smoked?
posted by Igor XA at 1:43 AM on June 2, 2005


I don't think we should de-criminalize horoin, salmacis. It's just too dangerous.
posted by clockzero at 1:47 AM on June 2, 2005


joshuaconner: Your point is moot, entirely. Marinol, as your blurb notes, is oral synthetic THC; Sativex isn't. Marinol is a token "medical marijuana" product due to when the DEA was forced in the early 80s to implement medical marijuana as the result of a court decision. Sativex is a natural cannabis spray absorbed sublingually, not via the GI tract. Effects are onset quickly (30m, as opposed to 3-4 hours) and dosage can be titrated.
posted by Gyan at 1:49 AM on June 2, 2005


Igor XA is perfectly right, it doesn't *have* to be smoked. Smoking, however, offers you the benefits both of rapid absorption AND of control over dosage.

To make an absurd comparison that I think still gets the point across: people die from heroin overdoses (heroin being an injected drug), but I've never heard of anyone dying of a marijuana overdose (marijuana being a drug that is usually smoked). So obviously dosage control is at least somewhat important.

Gyan: fascinating about cocaine. Let's forget marijuana and legalize coke!

We've gone from marijuana to coke? I guess it is a gateway drug...but only in the MeFi comments.
posted by joshuaconner at 1:53 AM on June 2, 2005


Gyan: "It does not contain the active substance found in recreational cannabis and so patients taking Sativex will not become intoxicated."

- from the Sativex Website

It looks to me like the Sativex example only applies to the subset of the marijuana-using population that uses it medicinally. Or am I missing something?
posted by joshuaconner at 2:03 AM on June 2, 2005


clockzero: Heroin is pretty addictive (23% of regular users are classified as 'dependent'; from same survey cited above) but not physically dangerous, when used with proper information. It is prescribed legally to certain addicts in Britain, Switzerland, and pretty soon, Canada. There might be other programs I'm unaware of. The introduction of an opiate antagonist recently, methylnaltrexone, prevents many of the side-effects due to heroin's action on the peripheral nervous system. There was also a recent publicized survey, conducted by a Scottish Univ, that showed 70% of long-term heroin users had 'controlled' use without significant adverse effects. What will probably happen with legalized heroin is double-edged. Most of the dangers of heroin, will be reduced or eliminated, which by the same token, might promote use and addiction. The reform proposal that seems most suitable, is heroin by prescription only, for addicts. Will reduce, if not eliminate crime committed to support addiction (Miron, the author of the paper linked in the post, estimates that illicit heroin obtains between 8-20 times the price, legalized heroin would, depending on market), while medicalizing addiction.

joshuaconner: people don't OD on cannabis, not because it's smoked, but because the lethal dose or LD50, specifically, is insanely huge. No death has ever been attributed to pharmacological overdose of cannabis. Based on inter-species scaling, the rough, if on the high end, estimation is that you would have to consume 40,000 times the effective dose (to get stoned) to OD.
posted by Gyan at 2:10 AM on June 2, 2005


joshuaconner, read my comment in the Sativex thread.
posted by Gyan at 2:10 AM on June 2, 2005


Thanks Gyan, good info!
posted by joshuaconner at 2:14 AM on June 2, 2005


the dutch have it right, although there is controversy. let it be sold under regulated conditions. it makes buying weed like nipping out for a newspaper. does that take the fun out of it? well it makes it ordinary. anyone who prefers all the hassle of scoring on the black market to that really should cut down their usage.

smoking a typical joint is the same as having 17 cigarettes. personally i would suggest not using roaches, but slipping in a cigarette filter instead.
posted by quarsan at 2:16 AM on June 2, 2005


joshuaconner, there's a lot of bias and propaganda regarding illicit drugs. I would always suggest primary sources, if you ever decide to read up. Even then, remember most funding of drug studies is conducted by the govt. agency NIDA. Govt. sites and govt.-derived info will be technically accurate but incomplete, misleading and context-ridden. Advocacy by private anti-drug organizations has outright lies, so might oral statements made by Govt. officials, which is not subject to the Data Quality Act, unlike printed statements & publications. In the end, think about the money. A total of $30 billion of govt. money is spent annually, to maintain prohibition, yet overall drug use, the reduction of which is the putative goal, is no less, than when 'War'-oriented Prohibition was first instituted. And I'm not even counting the treatment industry, private prisons, money laundering...etc
posted by Gyan at 2:23 AM on June 2, 2005


personally i would suggest not using roaches, but slipping in a cigarette filter instead.

Problem with that is it also filters out a lot (most?) of the THC, making it a pretty lame joint. The only safe way of getting high is either by ingesting it (brownies, anyone?) or using a vaporizer.
posted by zardoz at 2:37 AM on June 2, 2005


Re the lung damage: I think this is in part caused by the suck-it-down-deep-and-hold-it style of smoking. Combined with the relaxant effect on your bronchii, it's a recipe for maximising tar uptake. It's also unnecessary for a good hit. Naturally, there are no goverment-sponsored public health campaigns to tell you this, because the war on drugs is total and doesn't believe in harm reduction. Zero tolerance!

One of the injustices in my country is that possession of implements for the misuse of drugs (ie a bong or a vaporiser) is a crime, and hash oil is considered a hard drug (ie carries stiffer penalties). So considered as public health measures our criminal code is counterproductive, since it encourages using weed in its most dangerous form, and you would no more smoke a roach than you would a stale cigarette butt.

And of course, if weed were cheaper and legal, it wouldn't be so important to do ridiculous things to get every last little bit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:43 AM on June 2, 2005


damnit. that phrase "and you would no more smoke a roach than you would a stale cigarette butt" should have been appended to my last sentence.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:45 AM on June 2, 2005


Those economists are in the pay of the snack food industry.
posted by vbfg at 2:51 AM on June 2, 2005


It has surprised me that pseudo-commercially available joints available in Holland and Denmark (Christiania) are rolled with no filters. In this discussion, the other interesting thing was they are in packs of 5, presumably as users don't require dozens a day like nicotine addicts.
On balance, I'm for it, but would feel more comfortable if there was a reliable test for THC that could be used on the roadside to discourage intoxicated drivers.
posted by bystander at 3:09 AM on June 2, 2005


Gyan: I don't have a problem with de-criminalizing heroin.
posted by clockzero at 3:10 AM on June 2, 2005


Just because a bunch of stoner economists say that it makes budgetary sense to end marijuana prohibitions doesn't mean that the average, non-smoking American is ready to have the drug legalized.

There's plenty of room in the collective (and muddled) American mind for illogical policy. politicians will continue to legislate against marijuana as long the propaganda against it is continued and continues to work.

What bothers me about any public discussion of marijuana is the failure to differentiate use from abuse. Yes there are deleterious effects from smoking pot, but rock climbing isn't that safe either. IMO, we should be teaching kids to not abuse pot, or video games, or TV or anything else.
posted by recurve at 3:24 AM on June 2, 2005


You 'merkins pay $50-$60 for an eighth?! Jesus!
posted by anagrama at 3:29 AM on June 2, 2005


Just because a bunch of stoner economists say that it makes budgetary sense to end marijuana prohibitions doesn't mean that the average, non-smoking American is ready to have the drug legalized.

First of all, I hardly think it's reasonable or fair to refer to anyone who isn't in favor of the continued controlled status of marijuana as a stoner. Refusing to condemn something is not an indication of personal engagement with whatever it is, and you probably know that.

Also, it really isn't a question of how "ready" the average American is (and, by the way, I think the average American has probably smoked pot at least once) to have it de-criminalized. You make it sound like there's some hesitant majority which is being asked to grant a favor to a depraved minority; it's not being asked for as some privilege. This is the same sort of attitude that inhabits most politically-moderately-minded opposition to abortion or gay marriage; the proponent of restriction says they're "not comfortable" with it, as though their personal comfort must be satisfied for other autonomous individuals to make private decisions about their own life. No stoner, nobody who might want to smoke pot, cares or should care about how comfortable the average American is with it. It's none of the average American's goddamn business.
posted by clockzero at 3:57 AM on June 2, 2005


On balance, I'm for it, but would feel more comfortable if there was a reliable test for THC that could be used on the roadside to discourage intoxicated drivers.

Cop pulls you over, pulls out this spinning light thingy, holds it in your face. If you say "woah" or "awesome", you're busted.
posted by eriko at 4:01 AM on June 2, 2005


recurve, id wager to say that the average non-smoking American is certainly ready to have the herb legalized. everyone knows people who smoke pot regularily, many many people have tried it, and i'd be willing to say that most non-smokers understand how harmless it is.

the tricky part is finding a reasonable person/group to champion its legalization and drive it through the process.

but in the privacy of an anonymous voting booth, i'd bet you that the majority of Americans would legalize it in a heartbeat if they were given the chance.

i'm not a fan of tobacco's smell, the litter it generates, or the health costs, nor do i smoke, but i'd never vote to outlaw them because America is supposed to be the land of the free.

anagrama, i hear in nyc its even higher.
posted by tsarfan at 4:02 AM on June 2, 2005


"First of all, I hardly think it's reasonable or fair to refer to anyone who isn't in favor of the continued controlled status of marijuana as a stoner. Refusing to condemn something is not an indication of personal engagement with whatever it is, and you probably know that."

I do know that clockzero, sorry for offending you.

Why hasn't it been legalized? Why is pot decriminalization so politically inaccessible? Because politicians will be seen as soft on drugs. Everyone I know has smoked pot at least once, but that doesn't mean that they're ready to vote to legalize it (It's a gateway drug isn't it? Smoking a joint is like smoking 600 cigarettes, isn't it? My teenager will consent to a gangbang if they're high, won't they?).

Personally, I smoke pot, and I want to see it legalized. But it doesn't surprise me that it never seems to happen. There are so many good, logical reasons to end prohibition (such as the FPP we are all commenting on), but there is something else going on in our political atmosphere. I can only guess (see above). Anyone else want to venture a try?
posted by recurve at 4:36 AM on June 2, 2005


The psychological issues caused/encouraged/helped by marijuana are still being researched. Particularly with adolescents there appears to be a distinct problem - perhaps legalisation and regulation might be a helpful step in regards to that, perhaps not? Fact remains that schizophrenia or drug-induced psychosis is suprisingly common amongst cannabis users. I've personally known three dope smokers, not all heavy smokers, who've had schizophrenic episodes brought on (or attributed) to cannabis use. Here in Australia, abuse of marijuana is rampant amongst kids (smoking bongs before, during and after school) and the psychological trauma and resultant conflict in families caused by this are anything but harmless. Before anyone jumps on me, I've been an everyday cannabis smoker myself for several years and love the stuff, I just find that drug discussions are often unbalanced by either strong pro or anti-drug sentiments (I'm not saying that this is being done here though).

On balance, I'm for it, but would feel more comfortable if there was a reliable test for THC that could be used on the roadside to discourage intoxicated drivers.

Victoria, my home state, has just recently extended the duration of a pilot program which allows roadside testing by police for the presence of cannabis and amphetamines (including MDMA). I've seen some disturbing figures quoted about the percentage of fatal crashes in which drivers have tested positive for cannabis in the discussion about these trials. But on the other hand, here's something I posted in an thread earlier this year: a large study undertaken by the University of Adelaide and the state's transport authority in 1998, which every stoner who has heard of it loves to quote: "The largest study ever done linking road accidents with drugs and alcohol has found drivers with cannabis in their blood were no more at risk than those who were drug-free. In fact, the findings by a pharmacology team from the University of Adelaide and Transport SA showed drivers who had smoked marijuana were marginally less likely to have an accident than those who were drug-free." Here is what I think is a pretty recent review of the evidence on cannabis and driving by Monash Uni, in Victoria.
posted by Onanist at 4:37 AM on June 2, 2005


Gyan: There might be other programs I'm unaware of.

Austria allows general practitioners to prescribe morphine to registered herion addicts. The morphine is provided in a slow-release ingestible pill form, but wily addicts have figured out how to make injectable morphine from the pills, giving rise to concerns about the potential for an increase in overdoses from highly purified morphine.

I guess I have mixed feelings about this plan. On the one hand, it's beneficial because it encourages many problem addicts to register as such and probably reduces addiction-related crime. On the other hand, watching heroin addicts shoot up and nod out in prominent, central city parks right next to playgrounds and schools (self link) is one of the few things that I really dislike about living in Vienna.
posted by syzygy at 4:40 AM on June 2, 2005


recurve: Not at all. I didn't take offense.

I think one approach to the problem you're describing is to present the de-criminalization of marijuana not as a slackening of moral standards but a victory for liberty.

Also, and I don't want to seem overly harsh, I think there's a problem with people who like smoking marijuana but refuse to take a public position on its legality. That seems lazy at best and cowardly at worst to me. If everyone who enjoyed smoking marijuana were willing to stand up publicly to defend and advocate for it, I think it would stand a much better chance of being legalized.
posted by clockzero at 4:54 AM on June 2, 2005


I read here that one marijuana cigarette has been shown more damage to your lungs than 10 (yes, ten) tobacco cigarettes

I guess the good thing is, most heavy users probably won't smoke more than one or two a day, which is about equal to tobacco users, that is if they don't use something to cut down on the harm they are doing, such as using a water tube (Doesn't cut down on tar, but other toxins) or vaporizer, or eating it with some sauted mushrooms or in baked goods.
posted by shawnj at 5:13 AM on June 2, 2005


The taxation of legalized marijuana seems suspect to me: Wouldn't an awful lot of people choose to grow their own? And what would the government's response to the loss of potential tax revenue be? We'd be right back where we started, I fear, albeit on a smaller scale, with people going to prison for growing or selling unlicensed marijuana.
posted by alumshubby at 5:18 AM on June 2, 2005


Wouldn't an awful lot of people choose to grow their own?

Many consumables can be made solely by the consumer (vegetables, tobacco, etc). What makes pot any different other than you could potentially grow a plant or two in your closet? You underestimate the power of convenience.
posted by shawnj at 5:29 AM on June 2, 2005


> watching heroin addicts shoot up and nod out in prominent,
> central city parks right next to playgrounds and schools (self
> link) is one of the few things that I really dislike about living
> in Vienna

I agree that it's something of a public eyesore, but I can think of far worse. As you say, heroin users who are over-intoxicated simply nod out. In contrast, alcohol users (who can also be seen in most public places) get loud, obnoxious, and violent.

Given my druthers, I know which of the two groups I'd rather have in *my* local park.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:29 AM on June 2, 2005


Wouldn't an awful lot of people choose to grow their own?

not if part of the compromise to legalize marijuana included a new law making it illegal to grow without a permit.
posted by tsarfan at 5:38 AM on June 2, 2005


Greg Proops is a smug little yuppie swine who I'd like to slap the shit out of.

That said, legalize pot. People are smoking it anyway and we've survived. It'll bring in tax revenue and we can free up those cells for real criminals.
posted by jonmc at 6:48 AM on June 2, 2005


Gyan-- I doubt that the Reason Foundation has substantially cleaner hands than does CATO, so I'm surprised that you're citing Sullum uncritically, rather than giving the same treatment that you gave Balko.

will the cost on our economy of caring for these people outweigh the tax benefit of legalizing marijuana?

Well, if it's anything like tobacco, the Social Security Savings will outweigh the public health costs.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:54 AM on June 2, 2005


Is there a figure available for how much we would save on the costs of policing, prosecuting, and imprisoning for marijuana crimes? I'm guessing the savings would be quite huge. Doesn't each prisoner cost the taxpayers some $30k/year or something?
posted by beth at 6:55 AM on June 2, 2005


Aren't a lot of the budgets of police departments supported by search and seizure laws?
posted by meh at 9:09 AM on June 2, 2005


the rough... estimation is that you would have to consume 40,000 times the effective dose (to get stoned) to OD.

Been there, done that.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 9:27 AM on June 2, 2005


Which explains that cavier, octopus and twinkie souffle you whipped up the other night, you munchie-whore.
posted by loquacious at 9:42 AM on June 2, 2005


I read the article and it seems to have missed two significant numbers that I can see (one on each side):

1.) On the expenditure side, the calculation for reduced enforcement doesn't seem to take into account that the IRS/ATF(ATFM?) will need larger budgets to enforce the regulation of new marijuana laws and taxes, as they do with alcohol and tobacco. Just as eliminating prohibition didn't eliminate 100% of the costs of alcohol law enforcement.

2.) On the revenue side, the calculation omits the lost taxes of incarcerated individuals. If you're not in prison for a marijuana offence, you'll probably be working, generating GDP, and paying taxes that would otherwise be lost (or significantly smaller).
posted by justkevin at 9:44 AM on June 2, 2005


"Wouldn't an awful lot of people choose to grow their own?"

---

no. it would be cheap. think about this:

i imagine it's legal to grow your own tobacco. does anyone?
posted by muppetboy at 9:47 AM on June 2, 2005


Onanist: I've known tons upon tons of stoners and none of them has had any sort of schizophrenic outbreak. True, there seems to be a correlation between people suffering from some form of mental illness (not necessarily severe) and marijuana use, but it's impossible to tell at this point whether it's because it's caused by pot or because people with mental health problems might be more predisposed than the normal populace to self-medicate. It's certainly true that there have been high-profile cases of marijuana exacerbating a patient's psychosis, but alcohol or having a gun would do essentially the same thing. It isn't the substance, it's the user.

Regarding the quality issue, of course there will be people selling machine-rolled near-ditch weed, but that doesn't mean that the connoisseur's market will disappear. Just like you can buy a $25 bottle of Maker's Mark over a $8 bottle of White Eagle at the liquor store, or a $4.25 pack of American Spirits over a $1.75 pack of Winners, there will be plenty of people who will pay higher prices for better stuff, and it will still be a hell of a lot cheaper than black market prices.

Also, nobody ever seems to mention the medical condition for which marijuana is my favorite cure: insomnia! Smoking a bowl an hour or two before bed gets me to sleep every time and it's certainly safer and less addictive than any prescription sleep med.
posted by baphomet at 9:52 AM on June 2, 2005


The only thing stopping legalising or decriminalising cannabis is the political will. Its an easy shot to stand on a soap box and froth and whine about heathen drug addicts looking to have sex with your children and good god some of these fiends are homosexuals and libruls.
posted by adamvasco at 10:56 AM on June 2, 2005


personally i would suggest not using roaches, but slipping in a cigarette filter instead.

Problem with that is it also filters out a lot (most?) of the THC, making it a pretty lame joint


i have to say that this is not true. many people have the preception that this is happening, but i haven't noticed any difference since when i started doing this
posted by quarsan at 10:57 AM on June 2, 2005


baphomet writes "Also, nobody ever seems to mention the medical condition for which marijuana is my favorite cure: insomnia!"

Yes, but just try to get a prescription...
posted by schyler523 at 11:22 AM on June 2, 2005


Yes, but just try to get a prescription...

In PO or CA it would not surprise me at all if one could get a prescription for insomnia.
posted by chowder at 12:12 PM on June 2, 2005


i just don't know... i love my pot smoking friends as much as anyone else, but keeping it illegal almost makes it better for people who enjoy it. out in the open, they'd pay out the ass for it and it probably wouldn't be as much fun.

Well, this year I've so far paid $1500 in lawyer bills. I think the taxes would have been less the that.

If they don't want to pay taxes, they can grow their own, they just don't have to worry about getting caught. Keeping something illegal just because its fun to break the law is the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard of.
posted by delmoi at 12:23 PM on June 2, 2005


I read here that one marijuana cigarette has been shown more damage to your lungs than 10 (yes, ten) tobacco cigarettes.

Yeah, smoking an unfilter joint is more damaging to your lungs then smoking a filtered cig, but keep in mind the government lies about everything when it comes to drugs. When I was in school they said it was 4x as bad for you. in ten years it'll probably be 100 times worse.

Very few people are goin to smoke a pack of weed a day. And marijuana isn't addictive like tobbaco. You really can be a "social smoker" and smoke every once in a while, whereas with nocotine, you need to puff up all the time.
posted by delmoi at 12:28 PM on June 2, 2005


Marijuana cultivation won't be any different than zymurgy. A small community of enthusiasts will do it -- with excellent results -- but the average consumer just won't bother.

Especially not after marketing comes into play.
posted by Eamon at 12:41 PM on June 2, 2005


Weed will probably always be illegal. Pot smokers are right below gays in terms of oppressed minorities, and about 1% as motivated to change things. The public view about pot is deeply rooted in attitudes against the entire pot culture that is generally left-wing, anti-consumption, anti-corporate etc. Pot culture is a culture of dissent, and the establishment obviously hates that. (Plus, stoners make straight people uncomfortable at parties, which leads to all sorts of bizarre rationalizations for why it's illegal.)
posted by jimmy76 at 1:32 PM on June 2, 2005


all this talk about marijuana vs. tobacco has me wondering... am I the only one here who likes a cigarette now and again but has so far (over the last 10 years) never even approached a pack a day habit?

I mean, even when I was smoking a lot the most I could do was 4-5 a day. Seriously, in california with all it's anti-smoking laws it's a lot of work to form a smoking habit!

Also, while we're at it, does anyone have any data on the rate of addiciton for nicotine?
posted by gambit at 2:17 PM on June 2, 2005


The whole growing tobacco/marijuana comparison is not valid, IMO. Compared to cannabis cultivation, it takes a lot more work to extract a similar amount of tobacco. No?

That said, shawnj is dead right about the power of convenience. It's not easy to grow your own marijuana. It's much easier than growing tobacco, however. Seed and equipment sales could offset the "grow your owners."

The fact that it's essential to police budgets is the problem. That's the biggest injustice, as I see it.

out in the open, they'd pay out the ass for it and it probably wouldn't be as much fun.

Keeping something illegal just because its fun to break the law is the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard of.

I was gonna say, it sounds like that original comment was made by someone under 18.

In PO or CA it would not surprise me at all if one could get a prescription for insomnia.

Where the hell is PO? Am I a moran?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:24 PM on June 2, 2005


Yes, but just try to get a prescription...

Luckily, my local street pharmacologist is always on-call.
posted by baphomet at 3:05 PM on June 2, 2005


Kwantsar: I've skimmed through the cited paper for that claim. Didn't find anything contradictory.
posted by Gyan at 3:05 PM on June 2, 2005


PeterMcDermott: Given my druthers, I know which of the two groups I'd rather have in *my* local park.

I'd rather have neither in my local park. You're proposing a false dichotomy. It's not an either-or question.

In my experience in Vienna, I have had many more problems with heroin addicts in broad daylight, in public places frequented by children and tourists, than I have with alcoholics.
posted by syzygy at 3:27 PM on June 2, 2005


Interestingly, a few studies have shown that cannabinoids can have significant anti-cancer activity both in the case of lung cancer and Brain cancer.
posted by Astragalus at 3:31 PM on June 2, 2005


Interestingly, a few studies have shown that cannabinoids can have significant anti-cancer activity both in the case of lung cancer and Brain cancer.

Yeah, there's an important distinction as to marijuana's cancer-related properties. While marijuana may have more known carcinogens ...

From Dr. Dean Edell:

this is the big question about smoking. You'd think we'd know by now what part of it causes cancer, but we don't.

Some of the theories are tars, polonium, and, as you mentioned, the burning process.

The tars in cigarette smoke do contain known carcinogenic chemicals, but those chemicals don't really accumulate where lung cancer accumulates.

Polonium, which is radioactive, accumulates on tobacco leaves as a result of fertilizers. In a chronic smoker, polonium accumulates in the bronchial tree, which is also a location for cancer. If the fertilizer causes cancer, maybe non-fertilized tobacco would make a safe cigarette.

Burning vegetable matter also produces known carcinogens. But marijuana, which is certainly burning vegetable matter, doesn't seem to cause lung cancer

...

One of the main reasons we can't pinpoint what part of smoking causes cancer is that cigarette companies have a big secret. An incredible loophole in the law allows them not to disclose about 500 of the ingredients in cigarettes. Maybe the burning of one of those ingredients causes lung cancer. But we can't test it, because we don't know what it is.

posted by mrgrimm at 4:58 PM on June 2, 2005


I beleive that the tobacco companies also want to know what that ingredient is, so that they can take it out, and stop causing such bad PR. Big tobacco is probably researching this already--looking for anything at all that causes cancer.

At least I'd like to think so. (maybe I'm an idiut).
posted by recurve at 7:13 PM on June 2, 2005


will the cost on our economy of caring for these people outweigh the tax benefit of legalizing marijuana?

nope.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:22 PM on June 2, 2005


(Plus, stoners make straight people uncomfortable at parties, which leads to all sorts of bizarre rationalizations for why it's illegal.)

this is very true. I support everyone's right to smoke pot but please let it wear off before you come and talk to me!
posted by mcsweetie at 11:29 PM on June 2, 2005


The US government is going to eliminate marijuana from this planet. In doing so, it is very likely to eliminate a lot of our foodstuffs.

How so? Because the idiots in Florida are testing a Fusarium fungus that attacks marijuana plants.

And is very likely to mutate and attack food crops.

Hit Google for research. The first hit provides a good overview.

Once again the USA is playing with fire, and it's gonna end up burning everyone on the fucking planet. God, how I hate your politicians.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 AM on June 3, 2005


fff, all those Google links are from 1999-2000, and there's nothing in their news search about fusarium. I remember hearing about it back in the Counterpunch article (I thought it was for killing coca), but what's happened since then? I haven't seen anything in the past five years.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:31 AM on June 3, 2005


Lordy, I hope that's a sign the guys in charge came to their senses. Fusarium species are already a disaster for a number of crops, and it's sheer lunacy to think of using it as an herbicide.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:28 PM on June 3, 2005


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