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Economics Of Drug Legalization: Marijuana

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Economics of Drug Legalization: Marijuana

As we enter into the year 2002 America finds itself at odds with a well-known and highly demonized "enemy". The enemy is not terrorism. It is not Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden. It's an "enemy" that many Americans have dealt with face to face. The so-called enemy is illegal drugs, marijuana in particular. Marijuana is the most widely used and criminalized drug in the United States today. This highly sought after resource yields a black market price tag that creates a street economy all it's own. This is Marijuana by itself, it and all the other illegal drugs together combine to form the third largest economy in the world. This is because the demand for illegal drugs is so high. There can be benefits to a legalized drug trade that is certain. The following paper will defend that some uses of marijuana will benefit the economy if legalized. This is based on the premises that all illegal drugs can benefit the economy if legalized and that some illegal drugs include uses of marijuana. This will be presented in the AII-3 valid argument form.

In order to present a sound argument the middle, minor, and major terms will be defined so there is no question as to the basis of this argument. Illegal drugs are classified as controlled substances. Controlled substances are any of a category of behavior altering or addictive drugs whose possession and or use are prohibited by law. A few examples of controlled substances include heroin, cocaine, hallucinogens, and in the case of this argument marijuana. If found by the court of the law to be under the influence or possession of any controlled substance warrants penalization by the state or federal court which may include fines and or prison.

In the case of some uses of marijuana, the word some is highly emphasized. Especially when referring to the legalization there of. Legalizing some uses of marijuana includes distribution, possession and use. This does not mean that marijuana would be readily available for any willing participant to distribute, possess, or use. This means there will be laws and regulations governing the mentioned legalities of marijuana. Distribution would involve federal and state licensed distributors. They may only distribute to consumers of an appropriately mandated age. Laws concerning distribution of marijuana would have to be similar to those of alcohol and tobacco. Possession laws would also be very similar to those of alcohol and tobacco. Possession of marijuana by those under the mandated age would be penalized under a properly decided law. Similar to consumption of alcohol, consumption of marijuana would be regulated much the same way. Public use would be prohibited except for designated establishments and all other authorized public events and places. The operation of any motorized vehicle while under the influence of marijuana would also be prohibited by law. Violations of this law would result in punishments similar to those of current laws governing the operation of motorized vehicles while under the influence. Now obviously there would be many other intricate laws governing the legalization of marijuana. The possible laws mentioned above are general stipulations that would likely head categories of any future laws concerning legalities of marijuana. However, they do present a solid basis for future consideration.

There are many ways that marijuana would benefit the economy if legalized. An economy benefits when there is a healthy flow of monies within. This means internal spending by citizens on items of their choice. Citizen spending is what keeps the economy going. The use of citizen's tax money would also be greatly affected. Tax money would be allocated more properly and used in more strategic ways. The taxation of items such as legalized marijuana brings a flow of money into the economy that would otherwise not be there. This increase of government funds would allocate more money to federal programs that are in financial need. Federal programs include public education, health education, treatment programs, etc. When the public's way of life is improved it shows in the economy. Tax money is spent more efficiently, there are more jobs, less crime and an influx of private spending. Therefore creating a stronger and more efficient economy. The following is a Venn diagram proving the validity of the following AII-3 (Datisi) argument:

Illegal drugs are the single largest reason for America's ever expanding prison population. Currently the United States is the operator the largest and most expensive prison system on the planet. The prison population has reached almost 2 million inmates. 1.4 million of these inmates are in prison for drug related offenses. To keep drug law violators in prison it costs approximately $8.6 billion a year. On average it costs $64.49 a day, $23.554 a year to keep a single drug violator behind bars. This is by far more expensive then the cost of college. Much of this money is paying for non-violent offenders who are criminalized do to the illegality of drugs. Tax- payer money needs to be allocated in a more productive manner. Some people believe that decrease in crime is the result of new stricter punishment for all who break the law, therefore a reason to keep locking up drug violators. Trends of the past have shown that this is not the case. When the economy is doing well, crime decreases. This is because people are working, therefore creating capital for themselves and putting their share of money back into the economy. When the economy dips, people are out of work and find alternative means of income such as dealing drugs. Therefore creating a spike in the crime rate. By legalizing what is illegal, in this case drugs, the crime is actually being taken out of a prospective criminal's hands and being capitalized upon by the government in the form of distribution taxation. The end result would be less crime, therefore reducing the flow of tax money into the penal system and the application of that money into areas of public interest that would bring about a greater amount of good, such as the educational system or drug abuse treatment programs. By doing so the economy would benefit due to the more highly skilled and educated future work force. Also, the increased amount of tax money from the sale of legalized drugs would create a surplus of money that would not otherwise be available.

Since efforts to eliminate drugs from the nation have failed miserably, funds collected from drug legalization could be used to rid people of drugs. Treatment programs are the best way to curb abuse of drugs. It would also cost less then paying for law enforcement efforts to fight the drug war. The RAND



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