Marijuana tax will boost economy

With an economic crisis rivaling the great depression, our nation is in the financial equivalent of cardiac arrest.’

Marijuana is what some economists would call a waiting gold mine. Fiscally, marijuana legalization could be a blue chip investment as far as taxation is concerned. ‘

‘ ‘The most common phrase you hear from the states is ‘Everything is on the table,” said Arturo Perez, a fiscal analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.’

As our economy continues to decline, our leaders are looking for ways to create revenue and spur economic growth while trying to not let taxation get out of hand.’

Our national government is in just as much fiscal trouble as some state governments. Most states face budget shortfalls and the size of these shortfalls have increased, according to the NCSL News.’

‘Even though some states have taken corrective actions, the current FY 2009 gap still stands at $47.4 billion. This is on top of the $40.3 billion shortfall already closed for this fiscal year,’ said Corina Eckl, NCSL fiscal program director.

In order to balance state budgets and reduce shortfalls, states cut funding on certain projects and programs. Unfortunately, that could mean reductions in funding to schools, parks and recreation and public service jobs.’

‘These figures are absolutely alarming, both in their magnitude and in the painful decisions they present to state law makers,’ Eckl said. ‘The easy budget fixes are long gone. Only hard and unpopular options remain.’

What does not seem to be a hard decision would be the move to legalize and tax marijuana.’

‘If marijuana were legal, enforcement costs would be negligible and governments could levy taxes on the production and sale of marijuana. Thus government expenditure would decline and tax revenue would increase,’ Jeffrey Miron, professor of economics at Harvard University, said. ‘Prohibition entails direct enforcement costs, and prohibition prevents taxation of marijuana production and sale.”

Miron also debates the difference between legalization and decriminalization.

‘The policy change considered in this report, marijuana legalization, is more substantial than marijuana decriminalization, which means repealing criminal penalties against possession but retaining them against trafficking,’ he said. ‘

If the $7.7 billion for savings, and $6.2 billion for earnings are totaled, this amounts to $13.9 billion – roughly .017 percent of the bailout.’

$13.9 billion is the equivalent of 9,248,170 Apple desktops at market price. That would be upwards of 9 million computers for schools, providing schools get a discounted price.

Another thing to consider is the incentive effect created by prohibition. When you prohibit drug use, you run into complications because of economic impact. This happened during the early 1930s with alcohol prohibition, and is happening again.’

‘If you’re going to fight drugs – and that’s an expensive thing to do – then you run into shortages with tax money,’ Dr. Craig Stevens, UH economics professor, said. ‘So then you (think), ‘OK, let the police keep some of the profit from confiscation,’ then we’re forgetting about the incentive effect. Now you have the police sort of in a symbiotic relationship with the drug dealers ‘hellip; and that’s not what you want. That’s really bad.’

Many college students agree with decriminalization.

‘Marijuana should be treated like alcohol or cigarettes,’ communication senior Jason Yu said. ‘Legalize it, but penalize users for violations like driving under the influence. Also, there should be an age restriction as far consumers similar to alcohol.”

Many could assume college students agree with decriminaliztion on the basis of a desire to use the substance, but many say it’s because decriminalization makes economic sense.

‘I think it’s idiotic for the government to waste the money on small time marijuana criminals and funds that keep them in jail. I think they could spend that money in many better ways,’ communication senior Corinna Chiccoli said.

The prohibition of marijuana almost exactly resembles the prohibition for alcohol, the only difference being the Constitutional amendment. ‘

Stevens put it perfectly: ‘Experience is the ability to recognize mistakes when you’re making them again.’

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