The other day, I saw this interview at Reason on marijuana policy, and it caught my attention. Could our decades old losing "War" on drugs finally be coming to an end? With the issue appearing on the ballot in California, and mainstream medical and mental health professionals (even some, like Dr. Fichtner, who have a government background) coming out in support of legalization, we could be there.
Poll numbers show that increasing numbers of Americans support, or at the least, don't oppose, the legalization of marijuana. In fact, I'm guessing that polls, petitions, and other actions actually underestimate the number of people who strongly support liberalization of drug laws. Many drug users (especially the stereotypical paranoid pothead) do not publicly support legalization because they don't want their names associated with a taboo subject, and one which could have serious legal, professional, and personal ramifications.
Do I agree with Dr. Fichtner that marijuana legalization is the key to pulling us out of the recession? Not entirely.
I don't think pot is the next technology or real estate sector.
On the other hand, by legalizing marijuana, we could probably reduce federal and state budget deficits. Prisons would be less crowded, ICE agents could focus on stopping human trafficking, potential terrorists, and hard drug trafficking. Local law enforcement agencies would not be paying officers to search high school students' pockets for pot and pipes.
Moreover, the tax revenues generated by adding this product to the above ground market would be huge. The savings to the average user would also be significant, possibly providing some sort of stimulus spending on the pothead's part.
The lowered medical and law enforcement costs from reduced gang activity resulting from removing the most used illegal substance from the black market would be huge.
Is legalized pot going to save our economy? Probably not.
Will it help, even a little? Absolutely.
Is this just one more reason to add to an already long list to support legalization of marijuana and an end to our War on Drugs? Absolutely.
Californians, potheads and Libertarians everywhere are watching you this November. Continue to lead the way on this issue.