The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition
Jun 02, 2011 - www.prohibitioncosts.org
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.
- Government prohibition of marijuana is the subject of ongoing debate.
- One issue in this debate is the effect of marijuana prohibition on government budgets. Prohibition entails direct enforcement costs and prevents taxation of marijuana production and sale.
- This report examines the budgetary implications of legalizing marijuana—taxing and regulating it like other goods—in all fifty states and at the federal level.
- The report estimates that legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. $5.3 billion of this savings would accrue to state and local governments, while $2.4 billion would accrue to the federal government.
- The report also estimates that marijuana legalization would yield tax revenue of $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like all other goods and $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco.
- Whether marijuana legalization is a desirable policy depends on many factors other than the budgetary impacts discussed here. But these impacts should be included in a rational debate about marijuana policy.
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