Another voice for legalization of drugs
There’ve been many high profile economists who have come out publicly calling on the US to repeal drug prohibition laws. Today, it’s Harvard Economist Jeffrey Miron talking to CNN.com. If you’re wondering why so many economists are coming out of the woodwork to talk about prohibition, consider the last time the US faced a depression, one of the big policy changes that went into effect was the abolition of alcohol prohibition. It helped curb gang violence, reduced the giant strain on their legal system, and more importantly allowed the government to find a new and important tax revenue.
Drug prohibitionism is a moral issue, simply because laws meant to discourage drug use makes criminals out of a large portion of the American population. By prosecuting their own citizens, the government spends a total of 44 billion every year trying to fight a war which only enriches organized crime, sends a shitload of its own citizens to jail, and ends up making life miserable for everyone in between. There are failures, and then there are epic failures such as prohibition. What saddens me is no matter how expensive, wasteful, and tragic the war on drugs is, there is still a large contingency of people who think this is a war worth fighting. We all fear our loved ones would become a victim of a life on drugs, and we are willing to condemn a good portion of the population in the process. It’s poetic justice that our desire to protect them only renders the environment around them less safe.
It’s very possible that as the American economy continues to struggle, there will be more voices calling for the legalization of drugs. Most notably, marijuana. Don’t be surprised if in the coming months, some of these voices may be people you wouldn’t have expected. This is how important this issue has become. The US can choose to continue its futile campaign, or it can profit from an estimated 33 billion dollars in new tax monies that would be available if pot was sold tomorrow. In times of great economic turmoil it isn’t uncommon for something you would think impossible to become a reality. Everyone in the early 1930s thought alcohol would stay illegal forever. Harsh economic realities made politicians far more pragmatic than they are in times of plenty. It will be interesting to see how far this goes.