Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. Although it remains illegal at the federal level, nine states have passed laws legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana. Colorado was the first state to pass laws for legalization and began the state licensed sale of marijuana in 2013. This ex-post Cost Benefit Analysis examines data from the first two years of legalization and looks at both the positive and negative aspects of marijuana legalization in Colorado. In the end, the data examined in this paper showed that the net benefits of legalization far outstrip the costs to society.
According to a Marist Poll of 1,122 American adults, roughly half (52%) of those surveyed had tried marijuana at least once and 14% had used marijuana within the past month. (Yahoo News/Marist Poll, “Weed and the American Family” 2017). This poll took random samples from across the United States, including many states where the sale and possession of marijuana remains illegal. The legalization of marijuana for both medical treatment and recreational purposes has progressed quickly over the past decade and remains a hot button issue for both advocates and opposition of the de-criminalization movement.
Advocates for the de-criminalization of marijuana argue that prohibition has never worked and the social costs and penalties for the use of marijuana far outstrip any potential harm from use of the drug. Attempts to effectively limit the availability of marijuana, utilizing local, state and federal law enforcement, have been extremely expensive and, many times, counterproductive. Criminalization of a substance that is as widely used and accepted as marijuana has led to an absolutely booming black market which is likely to bring marijuana users into contact with sellers of other illicit drugs. De-criminalization advocates argue that maintaining an inefficient prohibition on marijuana will result in increases in criminal activity, devastating legal penalties and criminal records for the use of marijuana, increased costs for drug offender incarceration and law enforcement as well as the loss of significant tax revenue. (Wodak & Reinarman, 2002)
The opposing view, from supporters of the current policy of prohibition, argues that the pro-legalization lobby overlooks the serious health issues associated with marijuana use by comparing it directly with other legal and controlled substances with better documented health hazards such as tobacco and alcohol. Those in favor of prohibition believe that any revenue gained through marijuana legalization is outweighed by negative factors such as increased availability and use by minors, increased traffic fatalities and overall increased harm to public health. (Drummond, 2002)
This CBA, will examine the legalization of marijuana in Colorado by providing an ex-post cost benefit analysis of the existing policy of legal, taxed, marijuana versus pre-legalization leading to a conclusion ba...