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In building upon my earlier thesis that disasters are times where we can pass radical legislation, I think it is time to legalize pot, cocaine and ecstacy-type drugs. Maybe heroin as well.
My argument? Mexico's major industry is now a sub rosa deal. How can a society continue if the black market is bigger than the white? heh heh... the white line market is bigger than the white?
Could be the answer. We have a huge appetite. Best estimates make it a $150 billion per year retail sales industry in the US, of an overall $350 billion dollar worldwide industry. We are the market leaders for counsumption, with over 44%. Pot and coke account for 2/3rds of our expenditures, with US users smarter than their European counterparts in appetite for opiates. We can leave the heroin to the EU, in other words.
With state taxes averaging some 20% or so of the cost of cigarettes and alcohol, this makes for an annual $30 billion per year windfall. Studies on price elasticity of illegal drug prices support this, although it doesn't matter, because we could just slap a fixed tax per volume like we do for cigarettes and booze. Best of all, California would get a huge chunk of that! It could keep it's mitts off of our money...
An added benefit would be the decimating of our $60 billion per year prison system which has seen a huge uptick in incarcerations due to the War on Drugs, from fewer than 500,000 in the mid 1970's to nearly 2.5 million humans today, giving the US the award for most people in incarceration in the world. Give me liberty or give me death, indeed.
So... Viola! A new $100 billion per year of fresh snout material for our politicos to play with.
The drug suppliers have proven that illegal drugs work in a free market system. Let's see how they do with the rules and regulations and taxes and threat of litigation that the rest of us have to live with.