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 For:

**Implementing Required Port Security Plans in Just One Year

**Securing Soviet-Era “Loose Nukes” in Under Three Years

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, finds a June 2005 report by Dr. Jeffrey Miron, visiting professor
of economics at Harvard University.

The report has been endorsed by more than 530 distinguished economists,
who have signed 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.”

Chief among the endorsing economists are three Nobel Laureates in economics:
Dr. Milton Friedman of the Hoover Institute, Dr. George Akerlof of the
University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Vernon Smith of George
Mason University.

Dr. 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 impacts are considerable, according to 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.”

Use the links at the top to read the full report, see the open letter,
or view the entire list of endorsing economists.