Microeconomics and the Legalization of Marijuana Essay

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Microeconomics and the Legalization of Marijuana Sage Young ECON-1010 Four states -- Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington -- as well as the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Many other states allow some legal use of marijuana, primarily for medicinal purposes. (CNN, 2015). As such, the topic of legalizing marijuana, and to what extent, has pervaded nearly every home in America. Everyone has some stance on the issue, but not everyone has a full picture of the issue, or which strategy would be the most beneficial for the country as a whole. For the purposes of this discussion, we will focus mostly on the marginal benefits and costs, or the gains and losses relative to the current state, as well as briefly discussing the moral and social ramifications, as the relate to economic cost. A major talking point for pro-legalizers is the strain drug enforcement places on prisons and law enforcement. According to the Sentencing Commission, 31.2 percent of criminals were drug offenders, and of these drug offenders 28.4 percent were locked up for crimes related to marijuana (2013). Those possessing drugs are admittedly breaking the law, but how does their punishment relate to other criminals? The number of arrests for marijuana possession has risen sharply since 1980, surpassing arrests for violent crime by more than 100,000 (Huffingtonpost, 2013). Keeping in mind the average taxpayer cost of incarceration is $26,163 annually (Office of the Federal Register, 2013), this country is spending staggering amounts of tax dollars on keeping marijuana illegal, and is spending more money punishing marijuana users than murderers (Huffingtonpost, 2013). It is a simple thing to say that the decriminalization of marijuana would save a large portion of tax dollars on that front. However if it were solely a fiscal decision, the debate would be more

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