just legalize it already

Legal pot means big savings

on law enforcement

Aaron Smith, CNN Money

Cash-strapped California would get some relief by legalizing pot, but the biggest boost would be thanks to massive law enforcement cuts, not new tax revenue, experts say.

The state’s marijuana legalization initiative known as Proposition 19 goes to the polls on Nov. 2. And there’s been a lot of talk about taxing it to rescue the state from its budget woes. But even legalization’s top advocates say the drug won’t be a financial cure-all.

“No one’s promising that this is going to solve everything economically,” said Quintin Mecke, spokesman for Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who was the lead sponsor on two earlier efforts to legalize marijuana.

Most of the financial benefit would actually come from budget cuts – which means job cuts — according to a report from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C. The institute estimates that legalization could add $1.312 billion annually to California’s coffers. But the forecast’s breakdown calls for a savings of $960 million in law enforcement costs and an additional $352 million in tax revenue.

Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer at Harvard University and senior fellow at the Cato Institute who co-authored the study, said the majority of the cost savings would be a result of cuts to law enforcement personnel whose services would no longer be required. And axing police officers, prison guards, prosecutors and judges would hurt the job market, at least initially, he said.

That leaves an estimated $352 million in annual tax revenue, a tally that Miron described as “not irrelevant, but not very consequential.” He said it’s a welcome bonus for Californians who prefer legalization regardless, but it’s not enough to sway those who oppose it.

Aaron Smith, CNN Money

I don’t think the revenue saved by law enforcement will be from releasing police officers from the force. (Side note: Various police organizations have been endorsing Prop 19 as they know it will save money and take real criminals off the streets). The revenue is likely to come from the prison costs of housing pot smokers and court costs from prosecuting them. Also, this is going to spur the service industry in the state since we all know smoking marijuana increases your appetite.

It’s time to Regulate Cannabis in 2010 and put an end to the shenanigans!