The budgetary cost of marijuana laws has been calculated
above as $41.8 billion. The social cost consists of the widespread
availability of marijuana to adolescents and teens as well
as other ramifications of the government's utter lack of ability
to exercise any control over the illicit marijuana market.
The failure to exercise control over the marijuana market
through regulatory controls has resulted in many social problems.
Discussion of these problems, such as the increasing potency
of marijuana presenting increases in risks to adolescent users
and increased visits to emergency rooms for marijuana related
injuries, the increase in drug treatment referrals for marijuana
by the criminal justice system, continued availability of
marijuana to middle and high school students, and the increasing
number of individuals involved in selling drugs over the last
20 years, are beyond the scope of this report. However, these
problems all stem from the failure of current policy. The
objective of drug control policies is to control the manufacture,
distribution, and availability of drugs. These social problems,
some of which are detailed with statistics presented in this
report, all indicate a failure to exercise control.
Ironically, these policy failures are often cited by law
enforcement as a justification for continuing current policies.
Just as the costs of enforcing marijuana laws are cited as
a cost of drug abuse rather than public policy, these social
problems are misrepresented to the public as evidence that
marijuana use requires criminal sanctions rather than regulation.
Policy failures brought about by this lack of effective controls
is not a valid justification of current policies. The statistical
data cited in this report on the supply, availability, use,
price, and value of marijuana demonstrate that the amount
of lost taxes and other fiscal costs of current policy are
increasing and proliferating over time.
The regulation and legalization of marijuana would produce
the following benefits:
* Legalization would restore the capital flow in the illegal
marijuana market to legitimate and taxable economic channels.
* Legalization would eliminate contemporary criminal justice
and border security costs and provide for the reallocation
of resources to other pressing drug, immigration, and homeland
* Legalization would likely deflate teen commerce in marijuana
and consequently contribute to a reduction in availability
of marijuana to teens and adolescents.
* Legalization would eliminate the flow of considerable
capital away from the US economy by contributing to an increase
in the amount of marijuana grown in the US for domestic
* Legalization would shift the fiscal costs related to
marijuana use from all taxpayers to marijuana users themselves
by way of excise taxes.