Mention marijuana these days and all sorts of facets come to mind. For some older folk, it may be nothing more than fond memories of the good old days. When one shared a joint as easily as other pleasures, if discreetly. Sex, drugs and rock and roll and all that.
Fast forward a generation or two and a person might find themselves a bit disoriented. Not from any effects from the drug itself but from the contradictory and confusing state of affairs culturally and legally. On one hand, the plant’s diverse uses are more popular then ever. Not just among its aficionados but in the legal and political realms.
States and other jurisdictions have been decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana’s possession and use at an increasing rate. The handwriting on the wall seems rather clear. On the other hand, these changes are anything but consistent. Plenty of local jurisdictions continue to ruin lives over small amounts of marijuana. And, despite unmistakable trends at the state level, the federal government persists in its singular pursuit of the drug war.
Many factors deserve serious consideration such as issues of law, morality, health, civil rights, etc. However, money is of particular note for a couple of reasons, good and bad. The good news (for those thinking along these lines) is the potential of a veritable gold rush in the burgeoning legal marijuana economy. The bad news is the other side of the ledger that continues to cost individuals and taxpayers at an exorbitant rate.For marijuana alone, it is estimated police spend several billion dollars a year enforcing possession laws. Naturally, it is the taxpayers who foot that bill. The cost to those they arrest makes the number look like chump change. Click To Tweet
Marijuana Legal Costs in the Billions
Drug war costs are astronomically high. It costs law enforcement agencies, courts and other government departments, taxpayers and individuals caught up in the system. For marijuana alone, it is estimated that police spend several billion dollars a year enforcing possession laws. Naturally, it is ultimately the taxpayers who foot that bill.
The cost to those they arrest makes the number look like chump change.
“INSIDER estimates that around $12 billion worth of long-term lifetime economic damage is being inflicted each year.
“And that only accounts for the felony convictions. There are additional economic damages linked to misdemeanor convictions, lost time at work, and lost employment due to incarceration, which are possibly even more substantial given they’re an order of magnitude more common.
“Given the $3.6 billion spent enforcing, the $12 billion or more in lifetime economic losses, and the multiple billions spent defending or making recompense for the offenses, a conservative estimate of at least $100 billion is lost through marijuana enforcement every five to six years…
“The numbers of people incarcerated and experiencing the after-effects of marijuana-related offenses are staggering, especially considering the radical shift in public opinion and policy around the drug. Part of that has to do with the enforcement, and over-enforcement of drug laws — and the ways those laws disproportionately impact communities of color…
“These arrests have a huge impact on who gets to profit from the legalization of marijuana. Dispensaries are currently legal in 33 states and Washington DC…Now that there is legal money to be made in the marijuana business, large swaths of the people most impacted by marijuana laws are being excluded from those opportunities.”
Read about this in more detail at marijuana arrests still inflict tens of billions of dollars in economic damage.