Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

September 28, 2010
Cato Institute urges 'drug war' savings, avoids stand on Prop 19

A new Cato Institute study, casting the nation's war on drugs in a dim financial light, says California spends nearly $1 billion a year in state costs try to keep people from using marijuana.

And the study by the libertarian think tank says the Golden State could save a total of $6.3 billion a year by legalizing and taxing illicit drugs.

An announcement for Cato study asserts that the "drug criminalization structure" nationally "squanders a total of $88 billion a year - $41.3 billion spent to prosecute the 'war on drugs' and $46.7 billion in lost potential revenue from the taxation of legal drug sales."

The report, entitled "The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition," is authored by Harvard economist Jeffrey A. Miron and Katherine Waldock, a doctoral candidate at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

While the document clearly advocates potential tax benefits of drug legalization, it notably doesn't take sides on the Proposition 19 initiative to legalize marijuana in California for recreational use and allow local governments to tax and regulate pot sales.

Here is an excerpt from the report:

This potential fiscal windfall is of particular interest because California,which is facing a budget shortfall of $19.9 billion for fiscal year 2011, will vote in November 2010 on a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana under California law. Advocates of the measure have suggested the state could raise "billions" in annual tax revenue from legalized marijuana, in addition to saving criminal justice expenditure or re-allocating this expenditure to more important priorities.

And should the California measure pass and generate the forecast budgetary savings,other states would likely follow suit.

The fact that legalization might generate a fiscal dividend does not, by itself, make it a better policy than prohibition. Legalization would have many effects, and opinions differ on whether these are desirable on net.

To see the full report, click here.

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



About Weed Wars

Peter Hecht

From its pot fields to politics, California is the epicenter for America's marijuana discussion. This blog covers news, trends and people of the California marijuana story.

Contact reporter Peter Hecht at phecht@sacbee.com

» See the sacbee.com marijuana topics page

FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Get news in your inbox | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31