Friday, July 31, 2009

Marijuana gold mine

I had the following letter published in the Anniston Star today.

Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about legalizing marijuana and the amount of tax revenue it would generate. In California, it's estimated that legal marijuana would bring $1.4 billion annually. I crunched the numbers to see how much Alabama might rake in if we also legalized marijuana.

The current number of marijuana users in Alabama is estimated to be 392,032, or 11.25 percent of the voting-age population (as of 2006.) Divide that by the current number of marijuana consumers in California, which is estimated at 4,183,136. These numbers are according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Census data.

Alabama's 392,032 users is equivalent to 9.3 percent of California's marijuana-consuming population. Multiply 0.093 times $1.4 billion and you get $130.2 million.

Those figures do not include money that would be made by putting Alabama farmers back to work, businesses and jobs created that cater to the marijuana industry, tourism or the hundreds of millions saved in enforcement costs.

Considering that Alabama law enforcement arrested only 2.6 percent of marijuana consumers (10,272) in 2002 at a cost of untold millions of taxpayer dollars, I think it is safe to say that marijuana prohibition has failed. It's time Alabama considered legalizing and reaping the benefits of this untapped green goldmine.

Loretta Nall
Alexander City



Rockum said...

Take into consideration, also, the dark body of usage that isn't included in statistics collected by law enforcement agencies, and the difficulty in locating people who will answer honestly during self reporting. Proper studies have not been conducted on the frequency of cannabis use of Alabama's population, and if it were I'm sure it would show Alabama has far more than just 11.25% of the voting population toking up.

Loretta Nall said...

I completely agree Rockum. The 11.25% is a real low ball estimate. I think a more accurate number would be 50%+ have tried it and some 30% use it regularly.

Nick said...

We need to end the stigma associated with marijuana. It is no worst for you then aspirin. Especially if you vaporize it. The reason nobody trusts the government anymore if because lies like this

funkatron said...

Couldn't agree more! I don't see why this is even a debate. When it comes down to the brass tacks, it's painfully obvious that our drug laws do more harm than any drug ever could. It's time we save some money, and stop making innocents into criminals! Great blog, and good luck to you!

Rockum said...

Wouldn't it be great if an entire generation of African-American fathers, brothers, sons and husbands were actually able to contribute, too? That they would be included in their communities during census instead of enriching the communities that host their prisons while diverting much needed resources from urban centers?

Or if we could grow it to absorb carbon, construct negative-carbon housing and not have to have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications in the flesh of our fish?

Man. Thanks a lot, William Randolph Hearst.

Nick said...

Excellent letter Loretta! Yeah, in bad times when Big Govt is being a blood-sucking leech and looking for tax revenue (lol), legalizing a drug that's no worse than alcohol can be made attractive. And certainly the Drug War itself is enormously expensive for states as well as the feds to keep up with little return on their "investment" (like many things govt does).

Victimless crimes are probably the most impossible to enforce no matter how much money is thrown at it as there is no victim to call 911 (who calls 911 to report, "I'm smoking pot...i'm a victim of my own pot smoking, get the police over here to arrest me..oh wait, that means i'm my own perpetrator too! *hangs up*). LOL. It's laughable, but people really don't think beyond the surface when it comes to making laws.

If allowing the Alabama state govt to tax pot to death for their coffers can at least legitimize it in the eyes of people and keeps people are are simply choosing to put something into their bodies out of jail, that works for me! By the way, i'll post a link to your blog entry in my blog sometime during the day Saturday!

Don said...

On Friday I emailed a letter to the editor of the Anniston Star in response to your letter, Loretta. Normally the Star contacts me by email asking if I wrote the letter and want it published. In this instance I haven’t heard from them yet. The text of my letter was as follows:

Mrs. Nall makes a credible argument for legalizing marijuana in Alabama.

For some time I’ve been a proponent for legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes for those people who could benefit from it when prescribed drugs that are currently legal won’t help them at all or help them as much.

Its past time for our legislators to take off their blinders and do something constructive for Alabama and it’s citizens, especially those ill persons who could benefit from using marijuana to help relieve their pain and suffering without having to fear being jailed and branded as criminals as a result.

We learned long ago that the prohibition of alcohol didn’t work so its use was made legal. Why shouldn’t we do the same thing with marijuana when it could benefit patients whereas alcohol doesn’t, and it likely would be less expensive to use than alcohol is if it were legal to use it?

Loretta Nall said...

That's an excellent letter Don! I am behind in my email and was just about to email you and thank you for sending it. It took them a few days to respond to my sending of that letter and even longer than usual to run it.

Unknown said...

One thing that needs to happen is that if you tax marijuana, you need to keep the taxes reasonable; you should not ream pot smokers like the tobacco smokers are reamed. (I think cigarette taxes are way too excessive, and I don't smoke.) If marijuana carried too high of a tax, you'll keep the black market alive if they can get you weed for less money. This will lead to more arrests and full jails.