Milton Friedman, who was one of the most well-known economists in the world, was joined by over 500 additional economists in signing a letter which broke down the economic benefits of legalization. The letter, which was written in 2005, was sent to then-President George Bush, Congress, and every state’s governor and legislature.
The letter states “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.”
It continues, “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.”
The letter was, of course, ignored by most of the elected officials it was sent to, but in some instances, lawmakers have used it as an argument for cannabis law reform – as should activists.
Revenue generated from legalization is only one of many reasons to legalize marijuana, but it’s a big one, and one that catches the eyes of a lot of people.