04 January 2008| Don't arrest, invest
What ending the War on Drugs can buy
Jeffery A. Miron finds that by decriminalizing cannabis, the federal government would generate $2.4 billion in federal tax revenue annually, and that an additional $7.7 billion would be saved as the cost of incarceration, policing, and processing offenders. Now, that's too much money to for the human brain to fully conceptualize, given the air quality around April 20th, so your friends at the Prometheus Institute have provided this handy quantitive index in order to show exactly how much the U.S. can earn each year from cannabis decriminalization. The math: $2.4 billion per year + $7.7 billion per year = $10.1 billion gained in total per year. You're welcome.The $10.1 billion dollars could, for those who are interested, do any of the following:
• Build three nuclear reactors, because Greenpeace will be high and won't notice
• Extend health insurance to one million uninsured Americans, and doesn't that make everyone happy?
• Pay for 1,337,748 children to attend Head Start preschool, where they would all learn to say no to drugs, and listen, just like they do now
• According to the UN, it would "mount an effective, comprehensive AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries", which is effectively translated as a "fleet of new Gulfstreams for Robert Mugabe"
• Provide 40% of the tax revenues provided by the estate tax, because potheads are an even more attractive political tax scapegoat than old, rich people
• Provide XM radios for 36 million radio listeners, liberating them from FCC regulation and its paternalistic moralist oversight
• Immunize every child in the developing world for at least three years, a.k.a. global medical marijuana
• Buy each American over 19 a gym membership for a year, to either work off the munchies or to vaccinate against the self-inflicted "epidemic" of American obesity
• Provide over half of the necessary capital to avert an economic crisis on the scale of the East Asian Financial Crisis of 1997
• Purchase 12,000 Tesla Roadsters, to help reduce the carbon footprint of those environmentally intransigent car enthusiasts
• Provide a basic income for 15,000 poor Americans through the Prometheus Institute's (and Milton Friedman's) negative income tax policy proposal
• Treat drug and alcohol abuse for the entire country for two years
• Buy each American household a Nintendo Wii