Reason.tv: 3 Reasons to Legalize Pot Now!


As the United States enters its 72nd year of marijuana prohibition, it's time to consider legalizing pot once and for all, for at least three reasons:

1. The tax revenue and savings in law enforcement costs. A 2005 cost-benefit analysis done by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron found that legalizing marijuana and taxing it similar to alcohol would generate over $6 billion in new revenue and save nearly $8 billion in direct law enforcement costs. Pot is already the biggest cash crop in many states; bringing it into the open market would pump all sorts of energy into the economy.

2. It's going to happen anyway, so why delay the inevitable? Increasing numbers of Americans realize that pot prohibition is an ineffective and costly policy. A 2009 poll by Zogby found that 52 percent of Americans agreed that marijuana should be taxed and regulated like booze. A Field Poll last year of California residents, who will vote on a legalization ballot initiative in the fall, found that 56 percent wanted legalization. Other polls show historically high percentages favoring legalization. In a world of busted budgets, it's crystal clear that spending time and energy policing marijuana is not worth it.

3. Keep Your Laws Off Our Bodies. Never mind that by virtually every measure, pot is safer and less than disruptive than booze. Pot prohibition in the 1930s was the result of hysteria, not serious threats to society. We own our bodies and should be free to eat, drink, and smoke what we want. And to take responsibility for our actions, whether we're straight or we're stoned.

Approximately 2.30 minutes long. Written and produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie, who also hosts.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions.

NEXT: Thanks To ObamaCare, Congress Scores Another Own Goal

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Happy Birthday Radley!

  2. #1.a. Call the tax the Black Market Preservation Act.

    1. It would foster a black market only if the tax is excessive.

      1. Which is exactly what reason is supporting.

      2. Is there an alcohol black market? Does anyone actually use it?

        1. Why yes there is a black market for Alcohol. Have you never heard of moonshine?

          According to Wikipedia making moonshine is still done in the Appalachians. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonshine

          1. Yes, there's a black market for moonshine, but that's because moonshine is illegal, not excessively taxed. The evidence seems to suggest that marijuana could be taxed similarly to alcohol, then, without fostering a black market.

          2. Grab a piece of paper and in one column, count the people you know of who enjoy legal spirits. In another, count the number that purchase and consume "moonshine". In a third, tally people who brew their own beer and wine at home. I'll bet you 10 to 1 that column one has the highest number by far. There would likely be a similar affect on legal and black market marijuana. Regulation is seldom perfect, but the positives would far outweigh the negatives.

            1. Organized crime and law enforcement is big business.
              So is government taxation.
              If society is ever going to benefit from weed, we have to keep it separated from business. Otherwise, people are completely right to fear for it's effects on society.
              The only way we can avoid greedy men from ruining it all over again is to allow people to grow their own weed.
              If everyone could legally grow 3 plants for their own personal use, there would be peace in the world.

        2. Is there an alcohol black market? Does anyone actually use it?

          Making and bottling distilled spirits is a lot more complicated than growing and harvesting a plant. If marijuana is legal and the tax is excessive then there will still be a black market. Such a market already exists for cigarettes.

          1. Really? I make beer all the time in my home. It takes a little under two hours to cook up a batch of wort, add the live yeast, store everything and clean up. A month of inconspicuous storage later, and I've got ten gallons of beer, ready for the tap.

            I couldn't even BEGIN to figure out how to grow marijuana plants in my yard without it being noticed. It takes all season to grow it, doesn't it? Sure, I could try to use indoor hydroponics and special UV lamps and whatever it is that growers who do it indoors use (which sounds A LOT more complicated than steeping a little wheat & barley on a kitchen stove), but enforcement agencies even know how to look for tell-tale signs of indoor production of pot, just by looking for the heat signature of the ventilation systems.

            1. "It takes all season to grow it, doesn't it?" Nope. It takes 3 months. However given that the natural cycle of light is not in optimum harvest good interest, it's better to grow indoors in a carefully controlled environment, maintaining proper soil pH, 24-hour HPS (high-pressure sodium lamps) and proper ventilation; just like animals, plants can suffocate too, just reversed; animals need O(sub)2, plants need CO(sub)2. You also need to remove and destroy the males since they grow very little THC compared to females. To tell the difference, once the sprouts are about a foot tall and start producing the trademark 7-serrated-leaves en masse, there will be tiny little 'leaves' which sprout above the branches at their base up against the trunk. That's female, males don't have those until much later, which are in fact pollen sacks. You want to prevent the females from being pollinated (which is why you remove the males before they can produce pollen) because once they are 'pregnant' their biology dictates spending their photosynthesis on creating eggs (seeds) instead of 100% devotion to THC-laden buds (flowers), same reason you want 24-hour light (more energy to produce buds) instead of natural @12light/12dark. See http://i269.photobucket.com/al.....female.jpg for example of how to identify female vs. male plants. (Upper left corner)

              "enforcement agencies even know how to look for tell-tale signs of indoor production of pot, just by looking for the heat signature of the ventilation systems." Notwithstanding your statement making little actual sense (poor vocab) it has been ruled unconstitutional (4th amendment) for law enforcement to fly willy-nilly over populations (or subpoenaing increased electricity bills from providers) looking for substantial heat increases. No, this may not prevent them from busting you, but it matters in the court case should you decide NOT to accept the 'public defender's' (bullshit, they do not care 1 bit about defending you, only moving your case through the system ASAP so they can move onto their next case) offer to plea bargain out of an actual trial.

  3. When Virginia Postrel was here reason #1 would not have been a new tax.

    1. I, too, found it strange to see Reason advocate the taxation and regulation of something.

      1. Agreed. It's totally absurd. I am vehemently opposed to any "sin" tax, or sales tax at all for that matter.

        Two words: tobacco tax. It's pure, indisputable example of government corruption.

        The argument "legalize pot, and put a tax on it" is just cowardice. It's saying, "I'm too afraid to tell you that your law is horseshit, and I seek to assuage you by letting you know there's something in it for you too!"

        I hate to sound like an angry punk rocker, but fuck those cunts.

        1. well it's the only sort of argument that'll convince the public. Nobody gives two shits about libertarians' completely abstract, theoretical "rights" system, this libertarian-minded guy included. According to libertarian dogma, anti-discrimination laws should be repealed too - but do you really think anyone wants to undo the civil rights movement?

  4. The "savings" won't offset the low productivity, absenteeism and workplace accidents if everyone is high on a reefer jag.

    1. Which, of course, never happens today...

      PS-The notion of legalizing something so it can be taxed hardly strikes me as a libertarian rallying point. Item No. 3 should be No. 1.

    2. Low productivity is a self correcting problem. Unless you think that everybody will be getting high during work hours as soon as pot is legal. Then it is still a self correcting problem that you are still wrong about.

    3. There is no reason to believe that being stoned in the workplace is going to be any more acceptable than being drunk in the workplace.

    4. We are on the same page Juanita. I think people just don't understand the implications of legalization. Just imagine, 18 years from now, when all the bi-racial children born out of legalization enter the workplace. Productivity will drop by half.

      1. Can you smell whats coming out of your mouth?

      2. Juan, how many MILLIONS of Americans smoke pot?

        I don't mean when it's legalized, I mean TODAY, how many MILLIONS smoke pot even though it is illegal?

        I personally can get pot any day of the week I choose, illegal or not.

        Only difference legalization would make to me is that I buy it from a store instead of a street corner, and if it's bad pot I could return it for a refund.

      3. Don't worry, juan. I caught the sarcasm, even if these other two missed it.

        1. Hehe, I guess the others might not be familar with Juanita's typical postings.

          1. So he's trolling then... so original.

    5. Juanita, what stops you from going to work with a 0.079 blood alcohol level?

      It is 100% legal for an adult to have a blood alcohol level under 0.08 in public, so what stops you?

    6. Billions aren't savings? Are you on crack. It will help boost the economy and I have worked perfectly fine stoned at work. In fact I work more organized and faster and nicer to customers. Some people are what we call LIGHTWEIGHTS and cant handle the good shiot.

    7. Funny, I was just talking to someone today who related to me an incident that happened about 10 years ago. A client demanded drug tests (probably due to strong suggestions from the government), so a construction company surprised all their workers with a drug test one day. About one third of them failed, and the construction company fired them and had to find new workers.
      The new workers were not as skilled as those fired, and furthermore had to be brought up to speed about what was happening on the job site. This multi-million dollar project for a Fortune 100 company, which had been on time and on budget, was delayed three months.
      I wonder how many similar stories are out there?

  5. Is it just me or was that the greatest reason.tv clip music. . . evar?

    Seriously, the generally awesome aesthetics of that clip make me think that it will mostly appeal to the already-converted. [sigh]

    1. What were you smoking?

  6. Reverse the order, and then change #3 to "Ban anything Juanita enjoys as paycback for nannyism."

  7. Mr. Gillespie,

    Do you really consider legalization inevitable? I see those polls too, but I also see an American public willing to tolerate, if not demand, laws that harass tobacco users, tax soda, outlaw certain types of fats, and, in one proposal, criminalize the use of salt in food. The trend appears to be toward greater regulation of substances, not less. An electorate willing to demonize Coca-Cola hardly appears to be on the verge of accepting legal pot.

  8. An electorate willing to demonize Coca-Cola hardly appears to be on the verge of accepting legal pot.

    QFMFT. Paul?

  9. Does he have a closet full of those jackets, or does he wear the same one?

    1. The jackets are a self-replicating life form. Do not diss The Jacket.

    2. Nick's jacket has become a bit like Mr. Rogers's sweater to me. It's actually more conspicuous in its occasional absence. The jacket might as well be considered part of that goofy 70s hairdo.

  10. legalize rented pussy, top

  11. Whoa, wait. Pot is illegal? Tell me it aint so!


  12. The notion of legalizing something so it can be taxed hardly strikes me as a libertarian rallying point.

    Well, there's no way it won't be taxed, so anyone who opposes legalizing it because, once legal, it would be taxed, is opposed to legalizing it, ever.

    Legalized and taxed pot is more libertarian that illegal pot.

    1. Regulation and taxation should be limited to commercial interstate production/distribution and sales taxes, not someone growing it for personal use. If I can buy and grow my own tomatoes in my own garden, I should be able to grow a little weed too.

      1. Under the California legalization ballot initative personal growing of up to 25 Sq. Feet of garden space is legal, tax free.

      2. There's no tax on wheat or brewer's supplies, at least not in Minnesota.

        So while I pay a high tax on the beer I buy, there's no tax on the beer I make for personal consumption.

        Would it be better if there was no beer tax? Absolutely. But all things being equal, I'd rather put up with an extra buck or two attached to the retail value of a dime bag than see my friend's kid go to jail and have his life ruined just because he sold a little weed to his friends.

        1. So while I pay a high tax on the beer I buy, there's no tax on the beer I make for personal consumption.

          Not yet, anyway.

  13. a-HEM! Um, new Reason Gear ad, but no droll alt-text.

    Why do you squeeze the sunshine out of our pathetic lives?

  14. Well if alcohol is any indicator, pot will be legal only through a three tier distribution network with deep-pockets controlling the puppets in Congress.


    1. Still better than being illegal.

  15. I'm in favor of across-the-board legalization to include all Schedule I narcotics.

    I wonder how the legalization of just marijuana would affect use of other, harder substances.

    In other words, given the choice between legal pot and illegal heroin (or ecstasy, meth, coke, etc), what percentage of users would stay with just pot?

    1. The same percentage that stayed with 'just' alcohol.

      The gateway argument is a failure of an argument. Getting drunk is the same as getting high, and I've never heard anyone say that wine is a gateway drug to marijuana.

    2. Heroin, while known to be an extremely high-risk substance to use (addictive, unhealthy, extremely illegal, requires dealing with genuine low-life individuals to score any), has a high which is reported to be quite sensational.

      So people willing to engage in risky behaviors for the sake of a chemical rush will still seek it out, same as always. The myth that "getting high" is an "escape" is just silly. An opiate buzz is nothing like an alcohol buzz, as anybody who has been on codeine after a car accident can tell you. They are different experiences.

      1. Getting high can be a major escape. So can getting drunk be as well. Opiates and alcohol hit some of the same receptors in the brain. Take enogh codiene and you'll feel the same as if you snorted a line of heroin (shooting just has an intense rush). People as well fall to adiction of those little codiene pills just as easily as one can fall to heroin, maybe even more so because it's "not as bad" so why not. People as well do shady shit for those pills also.

        A high is a high. Whether it ruins your life or not is another story.

        If legalazation of pot means more money less spending I'm for it. Will it increase the amount of lives ruined because of getting high, doubt it.

    3. Totally agree as far as psychotropic / analgesic drugs and the vast majority of pharmaceuticals, whose use affects only the user. Doctors do have valuable knowledge about these substances and smart people will voluntarily seek out their advice, but there's no reason a governmenent-licensed guild should have a stranglehold over the distribution of certain molecules. However this kind of absolute freedom of choice makes me nervous when it comes to antibiotics, where ignorant and excessive use really does endanger PUBLIC health -- by driving the evolution of drug-resistant bugs.

  16. Three Good Reasons to oppose legalizing marijuana:

    Ignorance - Not aware that despite spending billions of dollars and jailing many thousands of people over the last sixty years that marijuana is cheap and plentiful, and even available in prison.

    Stupidity - Too stupid to realize that if you can't keep drugs out of prison that you won't be able to keep them out of a free country.

    Evil - destroying lives and liberty is the goal.

    We can change ignorance.

    1. Where is this "free country" of which you speak?
      I think I would like to move there.

      1. There's no notion of 'free country' or "It's a free country" anywhere in the founding documents, it's simply a poorly-thought but easily said phrase.

    2. "Evil - destroying lives and liberty is the goal."

      it's shrill mouth-garbage like that that makes people ignore libertarians.

  17. I agree with Reason's writers that marijuana should be legalized, simply because my body is my business, but I think using tax revenue as an argument for legalization is stupid. It's an attempt to make the idea palatable to a bunch of morons who view the benefits of taxation as a greater good than the perceived evils of marijuana legalization, and libertarians should never pander to those fools.

    1. I agree with Reason's writers that marijuana should be legalized, simply because my body is my business, but I think using tax revenue as an argument for legalization is stupid.

      You realize, of course, that repeal of Prohibition was sold as providing a much-needed revenue source to the states, yes?

      1. Indeed. I really don't care what stated motivations lead the squishy middle to Do The Right Thing. Just so they do it.

        1. Excessive rationalization leads to excessive retaliation. Present enough reasons why something should BE, and there will always be someone willing to present the same amount of reasons why it shouldn't be.

          The only reason you need is because you WANT to. Try explaining to PETA philosophers why you should be able to continue eating meat--- or just say, "piss off, meat is good".

          Instead of saying, "it's harmless", "it's good for medicine", "it's good for the economy", "it's not as bad as alcohol", etc, etc. We just should say, "whoa dude, give me back my fuckin' pot.. what the fuck do you think you're doing?"

  18. Legalization will do irreparable harm to the counterculture. The allure of forbidden fruit will be gone, and all the free spirits who currently make their living growing and selling will be forced into corporate wage slavery.

    1. Certainly at first, the counterculture will be the main source of product. Assuming these people can stay ahead of the Phillip Morris types, the business wouldn't necessarily lead to any conventional style of mainstream corporatism.

      Start your own and run it how you want.

    2. That's probably the only good reason I've ever heard to keep pot illegal. You're right, some minor underground businesses would suffer.. but I'm sure you could keep selling beaded hemp necklaces for a killer profit.

    3. that's the best argument I've heard for pot legalization yet. Anything that ends up harming liberal hippy socialist douches can't be that bad.

  19. You people are silly saying that it will cause low productivity. There have been studies done on populations that are known for their high consumption of marijuana and they rate much higher in hard work ethics! Get it straight!

    1. Great, give me the specifics on those studies because all the pot heads I know couldn't find their butt with both hands and a map let alone produce something. The only thing they are motivated to do is grow more pot. Which, if pot is legalized, would qualify as them being productive.

      1. You're obviously not a pot smoker, whose friends (if you have any) are forced to hide it from you. I'm much more productive when I'm pleasantly stoned. I'm also much less angry; I have absolutely no patience for people dumber than myself (that's a majority of the population). When I ask/tell someone to do something, anything, and instead of doing it or offering constructive criticism I get very angry, as they could have the job already done in a few seconds/minutes instead of arguing about it. However when I'm stoned I just laugh and ask them if they have a better solution to the problem at hand, then I make fun of their stupidity.

  20. Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and marijuana has been illegal in the United States ever since.

    Ever notice that most people tend to ignore the fact that it was F.D.R. that first outlawed pot.

    1. Yeah, and Republican Herbert Hoover introduced the Income Tax, what's your point?

      The rest of us are discussing policy, not history.

  21. I would accept legalization, so long as we also put significant limits on social spending. Starting pot usage at 13 years of age likely limits a kids future achievement. So if I had a really big car with a ginormous bumper, my sticker would read: I don't care what you do, just don't expect me to pay for it.

  22. The Council on Foreign Relations accuses the Tea Party and Glenn Beck of sedition!

    Read this article at the Freemen Institute by clicking on the link below:

    The Freemen Institute!

  23. One Issue: Personal Responsibility. In the US, there is none. That, unfortunately, is what will keep pot illegal. Cigarettes are barely legal ? with all of the law suits, "I didn't know it wasn't healthy!". And with all the smoking bans? Where will you actually be able to smoke pot? The idea of a 'clam bake' and second hand 'high' will be harder to convince the 'masses' to allow. I'm all for legalization ? but look at cigarettes as a corollary, and you'll see you won't get far.

  24. Legalize pot? Not a good idea, but better than the status quo. Once "legalized" governments at all levels, and the special interests they serve, will want "in" on the deal. There will be licenses, distribution territories, taxes to be paid for growing pot, penalties for not paying the taxes, penalties for growing pot that is too strong or too weak, taxes for transporting pot, unforseen costs of setting up and enforcing all the rules the government will impose in order to ensure they get their share.

    But the biggest problem is that once you "legalize" pot, and the government gets "in" on the deal it becomes a big business and big businesses exist for one thing, growth! So now you have the government and the special interests using huge resources to recruit new customers. This would not be good. Additionally, you have the not very small problem of the government who has incarcerated thousands of citizens for possession of a substance that is now promoted as "legal" by that same government.

    A better idea is de-criminalization. That requires far less administration and entails far less hypocrisy. It could still be illegal to make a large business out of growing, transporting, and selling pot, but small scale cultivation and personal usage would not be a crime of any sort.

  25. #4: Democrat voters will be too stoned to vote.

    1. #5: Libertarian voters will be too stoned to vote... wait, that might be a problem!

  26. Note to self -

    Pro-Drug videos that are to be taken seriously should not be done by a guy in a leather sport coast who looks like he's been on a crank-binge for 3 days.

  27. Well, you all know I'm all about the pot!

    OsamaHusseinIslamObama 2012?
    (the terrorist-Uighur-ACORN-media choice)
    -It's never too early to campaign-

  28. The future of this country rests within the libertarian movement.

  29. The federal government spends more than $14 billion per year on the "War on Drugs," but let's imagine an America with legalized drugs:

    Currently, we know that drug and alcohol abusers are five times more likely to file a worker's compensation claim. They incur 300% more health-care costs than non-users. They're 1/3 less productive and absent from work three times as much. All of this costs money. The actual monetary cost to society surpasses $97 billion, and almost half of that burden falls on the back of the taxpayers. Costs include drug-related crimes and trauma (like car crashes), as well as government services like criminal justice and highway safety. Not to mention various social insurance mechanisms, such as private and public health insurance, life insurance, tax payments, pensions, and social welfare insurance.

    That's almost $100 billion a year wasted because less than 10% of the population uses drugs on a regular basis. Most of that group is made up of potheads (the heroine and cocaine junkies make up less than 1% each).

    So we have $14 billion for the war on drugs compared to $97 billion in damage caused by drugs. It's not too difficult to see how that $97 billion price tag will balloon if the other 90-some percent of Americans are exposed to drugs. In 1979, more than twice as many Americans were using drugs. So double that $97 billion figure, and you can see that the war on drugs is a bargain. So knock it off with the propaganda.

    2. "People are going to do it anyway" is a fallacy. "People are going to steal anyway, so let's make theft legal." Kids are going to kill themselves anyway, so let's encourage them.

    3. Prostitution. Drugs and prostitution both affect 3rd parties who wish not to be affected, so, no, let's NOT legalize them like selfish pricks. You still have the right to do drugs, and because it affects others, you still have the right to go to jail for it. We're not going to change laws just to better fit a selfish group's lifestyle choices.

    1. What does ANY of that have to do with Liberty, as in "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?"

      Productivity is a non-issue b/c firstly, it's self correcting; if I don't work, I don't eat., 2ndly, my productivity is nobody's damn business - not yours and certainly not the governments.

      Your numbers are nonsense. MJ is a much safer and socially benign intoxicant than alcohol. This isn't disputed, yet Prohibitionists still want to put kids in jail for the same thing the last 3 Presidents have done, not to mention the guy that just won more gold medals than any Olympian ever, Steve Jobs, William F Buckley Jr, and the vast majority of famous recording artists. Meanwhile keeping MJ illegal provides a lucrative black market that has spurned the growth of deadly violent drug cartels that have overrun Mexico and have firm tentacles into the U.S. The border town of Juarez is now the murder capital of the world. This immorality is bourne out of our Prohibition policy.

      More people should give up their alcohol and smoke pot. Less problems, less cost, and it makes the world a better place.

      End Prohibition Now

  30. Mothers Against Pot Smoking Drivers (MAPS-D) says no on legalization. If its legal, they will drive. If they drive, there will be more deaths by pot smokers, vicious circle. More work for police, not less.

  31. your just dumb have you drove with a pot smoker? I have once and he was the best driver ive ever seen. Plus it would stop so much crime. just think how much the economy would benifit from taxing it. They could do it like amsterdam just build coffe shops. Its there best cash crop and there making so much from tourism its not even funny. Just ask your self are they doing good. Answer YES!!!

  32. Think about our childrens future, pot is a deadly psycho active drug that is reeking havoc amongst our kids, Bi Polar and Schizophrenia are just two ailments we now see reguarly in kids who smoke Cannabis,go to any Mental health unit at your local hospital and ask for the facts, we will give em to you and you won't be happy, SAVE OUR KIDS.................

  33. Like it has been proven the war on drugs has been failing and for a good reason! Weed should be legal and it's about time, I'm ready for a change! End prohibition its safer than alcohol and tobacco but the government has no problem with the, the two main causes of death. Hmmmm wonder why?they are taxing it! Pot=plants=oxygen=life who is for legalizeing life and nature? Because the government is trying to destroy it? but what is the government? This ridiculous federal ban can be stopped. but they say they have more important things to worry about than pot so why do they waste close to 8 billion dollars is law enforcement and ruining peoples life. By the way the 8 billion is our tax dollars we can all work together to save this economy and quality of life for everyone in America. I want something to be proud of in my generation. so what we have a black president...i want to be able to say our population as a whole came together as a whole and voted for something more than color. Vote green we can do it join our team!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.