Over 300 Economists Agree: It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director April 17, 2012

    Over 300 economists have signed on to an open letter to the President, Congress, Governors, and State Legislators asking them to allow this “country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition.” The petition states that the undersigned “believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods.”

    Notably, three of the economists who have already signed on are Nobel Laureates. Three hundred plus additional economic scholars have already signed on, you can view the list and more details here. Full text of the petition letter is below:

    We, the undersigned, call your attention to the attached report by Professor Jeffrey A. Miron, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. The report shows that marijuana legalization — replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation — would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.

    The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy. Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm.

    We therefore urge the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition. We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods. At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.

    You can view media coverage of this effort here.

    97 responses to “Over 300 Economists Agree: It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana”

    1. Jeremy says:

      Hit them where it hurts, the truth and a graph =).

    2. Rich says:

      This doesn’t even begin to cover the economic benefits of legal Hemp! Textiles, vitamins, oil, protein, plastics, building materials, etc.. Hemp is sustainable, renewable, and incredibly useful.

      It boggles my mind that it’s illegal to grow a non-drug plant in this country.

    3. Joe says:

      Thank God! His creation will now be presented in a much truer form!

    4. MJ Tribune says:

      Like all of the other petitons I can see this petition having no effect on weather our government will discuss marijuana prohibition honestly. If anyone in the US government discusses it it’ll most likely be one sided and anti-marijuana like the majority of the debates. We’ve been ready for the end of prohibition, we’re more ready than ever, but sadly our corrupt regime will keep depressing and lying to us about cannabis. Something tells me we’ll collapse economically before the rich greedy bastards finally legalize this incredible plant.

    5. Leo R Moore says:

      This is a free country is nt it NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    6. Bud says:

      The time is now, the chart says it all!

    7. Anonymous says:

      […] foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition. Over 300 Economists Agree: It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana | NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform You can view media coverage of this effort here: Pot Legalization Could Save U.S. $13.7 Billion […]

    8. Mrs. Ratsrectum says:

      You know, it’s more than just the graph above. People who are on the fence about cannabis might be persuaded with the statistics from a different angle. I’d like to see the geographical locations of the murders plotted in little year-color-coded dots. A different color dot indicates a different year in which the murder occurred. Overlay the same geographic area of Mexico to different areas of the U.S. to make the point.

      Ask the Central Question:

      Would U.S. citizens put up with it in their communities?

      It approached the 10,000 in 2009.
      It is trending upward, with an estimated 16,466 in 2011.
      Since 2006, low ball estimate is 47,554, high ball estimate is 60,420.

      That from Wikipedia: Mexican Drug War

      To just drive the fear into people make sure you show plotted maps of the extrapolation into the future. Show estimates of future projections on the murders and how they spread to new geographic areas.

      Yeah Grandma & Grandpa, they can spread to an area near you. Just look at that pattern.

      You wouldn’t put up with that at home, so why would you put up with it in Mexico? Just because they’re Mexicans? If the same plots were done for Europe, would the Europeans put up with that kind of shit? The Netherlands will have to backpedal on Opstelten’s fuckin’ weedpass in the face of violence in areas where he is having the wietpas implemented this May. Lul! Put this show on Dutch television, and in Dutch with some actual Dutch in it perhaps, amongst North and South Americans. Perhaps English as the lead language with voice overs for the foreign moderators leading in and following up commentary on the segments.

      No one in their right mind will blame any of the countries from Mexico through to South America when they legalize cannabis outright. I mean, the Dutch have their coffeeshop system and have the best results against hard drugs. I mean, you (U.S. prohibitionists/feds) let the Dutch have their coffeeshop system but shit on the non-eurocentric populations. You give them military protection and military cooperation without making a big enough deal out of it to sever diplomatic ties.

      What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If they can do it, any country in the world can do it. You must separate cannabis from hard drugs’ sales to the consumers to reduce the number of hard drug users. You know how it works.

      I was thinking a television show with some eye candy like an attractive woman. She’ll hypnotize the stuffy old male prohibitionists and ought to be dressed to come across as the granddaughter of the prudish old female prohibtionist.

      You know the ratings are decent, and the reruns carry the legalization message on long after the media are no longer printing the prohibitionist shit or replaying the prohibitionist soundbites.

      Take it from there.

      The Beat Goes On


      Sonny & Cher

      I love you, Sonny!

    9. Kyle says:


      Now we can only hope for the CHANGE away from ignoring the truth as history has taught us.

      I’m not getting my hopes up.

    10. Galileo Galilei says:

      This is just a bunch of professional economists and Nobel laureates. How could they possibly be any smarter that your average drug war zealot?