7 Ways America Would Change if Marijuana Became Legal - NakedLaw by Avvo.com

7 Ways America Would Change if Marijuana Became Legal

45 Comments
May 28, 2010 at 3:20 pm  •  Posted in Crime, Healthcare, Politics, Taxes by  •  45 Comments

What would happen if marijuana were legal, taxed and regulated just like a pack of cigarettes? Read on to find out.

  1. Drug arrests would drop and prison space would open for violent offenders. As it stands now, there is a drug arrest made every 18 seconds in America. Now, not all of these arrests are marijuana related, and in fact, marijuana arrests have declined. However, there were more than 800,000 pot-related arrests in 2008, and there are still a number of these arrests taking place as we speak. If marijuana were legalized, these drug-related arrests would drop immensely, freeing up jail space and allowing police to focus on violent crimes.
  2. Fewer kids would try marijuana. It may be counter-intuitive, but legalizing marijuana for adults could lead to less pot use by kids. Why? Studies have shown that even though pot is currently illegal, kids find it more easily than beer and cigarettes.  Legalizing marijuana would put street dealers out of business who don’t care about the age of their customers.
  3. Street violence would drop. According to Jeffrey A. Miron, director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University’s economics department, street violence would drop. The problem with pot being illegal is that it forces people to resolve disputes themselves, often with violence.  If pot were legal, buyers and sellers could resolve their business disputes just like everyone else — in court. Gang violence, which is due in part to the illegal marijuana trade, would decrease as well.
  4. State governments would have a lot more money. If pot were legal, state governments could heavily tax it just like alcohol and tobacco, creating a new stream of revenue.  For example, estimates show California could rake in over $1 billion per year in pot taxes. What’s more, according to The Budgetary Effects of Marijuana Prohibition, taxpayers are spending about $14 billion each year on the war against marijuana. That’s money that would be saved if marijuana were legal.
  5. Accidents and emergency room visits may increase. Although marijuana doesn’t conjure up images of wife beating and recklessness like alcohol, it does impair motor skills and judgment, which could lead to more accidents.  However, this assumes legalizing marijuana would lead to more people using it, which isn’t necessarily true.  In Holland, where marijuana is legal for everyone over 18, the percentage of adults using it is less than half of that in America. Is this just a cultural difference between the Dutch and Americans? Perhaps, but even in Europe, the French, Italians, Spaniards and Britons all use more pot than the Dutch, even though it’s illegal in all those countries.
  6. The price of marijuana would drop and corporations would profit. In areas where medical marijuana is legal, the increased supply has already caused prices to plummet.  If pot were legal for everyone, prices would drop even further as large companies grew, cultivated and distributed marijuana on an industrial scale.  Such large companies and their shareholders would make billions in additional profit (a part of which goes back to the government in the form of taxes) and they would need to hire more workers. Of course, some small-scale growers could also thrive, much like some microbreweries thrive in the face of Bud Light.
  7. Mexican drug cartels would be crippled. Marijuana accounts for as much as half of Mexican drug cartel revenue, which means legalizing it would cripple their business.  This would free up the border patrol, the forest service and local law enforcement to worry about deadly drugs like meth, cocaine and heroin, not to mention terrorism.  A financial blow to Mexican drug cartels would also weaken their control over American street and prison gangs.

Until marijuana legalization takes place in the US, we’ll never really know how things will pan out. However, we could get a glimpse of it in November when Californians vote on legalizing marijuana for everyone over 21.

What do you think would happen if marijuana became legal?

Jacqueline Savron, Avvo.com

About 

Jacqueline Savron is an experienced author, journalist and freelance writer with a long-standing background in the legal industry. She shares her consumer-minded analysis on everyday legal topics, media headlines and current events via her writing for NakedLaw. Based at Avvo's HQ in Seattle, WA, her goal is to deliver readers the information they want and need to make better, more informed decisions about their legal issues and needs.

45 Comments

  1. Alchemical Magician / May 14, 2013 at 8:45 pm / Reply

    The funny thing, in an alternate world where Prohibition still made alcohol legal and marijuana’s legality never got touched, no one would think twice about smoking a joint when sitting at nice patio restaurant.

  2. Nou veau / May 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm / Reply

    do you think that the government will not legalize it because it actually provides funding for jobs along the southern border? Think about it. You said crime would drop. That means less cops will be needed. Smuggling from the Mexico border would not even be an issue any more. That would make many border patrol jobs obsolete. I whole heartedly agree with your points. Although i think that the government is trying to squeeze as much profit from the plants as possible.

  3. Fernando / September 7, 2012 at 8:12 am / Reply

    it’s incredible that you propose this to be a serious article while calling the USA America and talk about Mexico as if it was in another continent, hahaha, stupid gringos

  4. Fjkdslafhdlks / June 7, 2012 at 8:01 pm / Reply

    5 is incorrect, it does not impair motor skills or judgement at all……..

    • brian / August 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm / Reply

      It definetly does to some people. Maybe youre one of the lucky ones it doesnt affect like that, but that other guy who just finished a joint and decided he wants some 7/11 nachos might just over react when a car turns into his lane, maybe causing a head on collision. You never know how people are going to react to a drug, this is probably why its illegal.

  5. Lyla Burns / March 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm / Reply

    You have made some interesting points. I think I would still stick to my electronic cigarettes if it became legal. This type of stuff doesn’t temp me, but I have enjoyed reading the article. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Lazyyyyyy / January 12, 2012 at 6:07 am / Reply

    Who cares? People are still going to smoke weed either way. You only have one life, and one brain, so might as well put some holes in that shit.

  7. Jo Cavallaro / December 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm / Reply

    Just what we need….more potheads however now they would be legal. Brainless, but legal. Pot damages the brain!!!

  8. claims solicitors / December 1, 2011 at 4:08 am / Reply

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  9. ctl / July 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm / Reply

    The only thing that can be done is to decriminalize it both for private possession of certain amounts including only indoor cultivation.

    Industrial Hemp needs to be made totally legal, Hemp is where there is real money. Hemp as a raw material is almost as valuable as petrolium. There is no money in it for human consumption as no stoner is going to buy expensive taxed legalized pot when it can be grown for free.

    Outright legalization will never happen anytime soon. because of too many conflicts public saftey, OWI laws, pre-employment drug screens, underage use as well as existing tobacco laws Also in order to recind marijuana prohibition would mean there would need to be thousands of laws passed to regulate it and nobodys going down that road.

  10. arch dics washer / November 29, 2010 at 7:30 am / Reply

    i want the bud i want it now nigga

  11. arch dics washer / November 29, 2010 at 7:29 am / Reply

    niggas ya know

  12. toby pete / November 27, 2010 at 10:58 pm / Reply

    walke up ,lawers are making a ton of money off people .People getting caulght with as little as a seed.They would squall like babbies if it were to be legal.there are dirty cops,that will plant pot in your kids astray.And cost you and cause a ton of problems.if it were legal we could use it in others way and not have to smoke it. it is a joke.

  13. Sally Seidel / November 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm / Reply

    Legalization would have delivered California state law in conflict both with federal law as well as the international treaty that underpins the particular global war on medications, the 1961 United places Single Convention on Narcotics drug treatments. It placed marijuana along with powerfully addictive drugs for instance heroin, a wrong-headed category which became U. VERTISEMENTS. federal law in 1970.

  14. Lee / October 10, 2010 at 5:36 pm / Reply

    We’ve seen the argument for common sense to legalise MJ for the crime reduction, to allow cigarette firms to control it, government to collect taxes from it blah blah blah… it will never happen, governments NEED crime & punishment to keep people down, & control them when needed. You see in some countries when new governments come in they feel the need to create new crimes, usually petty ones, so they can keep law & order working & criminalise people. the populace need to live in fear.

    To the one or two ignorant people who seem to think DEA will loose jobs solely because of MJ – you think every crime is committed because of this petty herb? what planet are YOU on? And to the silly person who spouts the generic anti-drug bull about things being “gateway drugs” – you’re wrong – most herb smokers are content with just that, well maybe a drink as well – in fact many of them wouldn’t touch cigarettes (no need). abuse of hard drugs boils down to some failure in society. MJ is a soft recreational herb so please, get some insight before spouting off your own personal view, it is highly arrogant to insist a whole generation stop their lifestyle because you simply don’t approve.

    the situation we have now is strange because although being a safe & easily grown plant, due to it’s legal status many smokers don’t want the risk of growing their own, so there is this customer / dealer traffic in neighborhoods – which isn’t necessary at all. why do people need to go hunting for dealers, when it is simply just for smokes? it’s ridiculous.

    if the WHO want to kill off cigarettes, then they’re CERTAINLY not letting people have weed. i think they’re trying to prove that prohibition WILL work, i just wish people would grow their own so they can be proven wrong – again.

  15. chandler / July 15, 2010 at 8:19 pm / Reply

    high school and i still maintained a 3.5 gpa+ . get to know the REAL facts people

  16. chandler / July 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm / Reply

    there has been new 2009 and 2010 studies that have proven that marijuana does minor effects to the brain. alcohol is more damaging to tae brain then marijuana. i have been a pot smoker all throughout

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  18. JK / June 29, 2010 at 1:56 am / Reply

    Since marijuana has been proven to cause holes in the brain and so decreases reasoning ability, I’m not sure anyone wanting to see it legalized can understand how wrong those points are, especially:
    1. Drug arrests would drop and prison space would open for violent offenders. And it’s a good thing, since violence would greatly increase. The holes in the brain that marijuana causes shut down the reasoning part of the brain and enhance the part that is violent. This is evident from research that is a decade old and can be found here:
    http://www.amenclinics.com/brain-science/spect-image-gallery/spect-atlas/images-of-alcohol-and-drug-abuse/
    and here:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1177258/Are-wrecking-brain-Chilling-pictures-reveal-shocking-effects-alcohol-cigarettes-caffeine-mind.html
    2. Fewer kids would try marijuana. Right, especially since it would be legal for their parents to have in the home. Right now, when infants and children with developing brains are exposed to the horribly damaging smoke from pot, the parents can be arrested. If it’s legal for the parents, the children will become affected just by breathing, which last time I checked isn’t optional.
    4. State governments would have a lot more money. Sure, just like they have more money when they legalize gambling, run lotteries, etc. Somehow that money just never seems to materialize in any beneficial way.
    7. Mexican drug cartels would be crippled: Really? Criminals never run out of crimes to commit. They just change to others; in this case: prostitution and other human trafficking, other drugs, robbery, etc.

    • JIE / June 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm / Reply

      1.) Hmm, y’know, I never knew I couldn’t reason and was a raging stoner. And I didn’t know weed made it so. Guess five years makes me blind. Plus, information from ten years ago? Is that what constitutes credible information, being a decade out of date? And from two sources I’ve never heard of? Good old Google.
      2.) Wanna know what’s funny about that? It’s a thing called responsibility that people SHOULD have around children. Perhaps it’s hoping too much from people, but you shouldn’t do ANY drugs around children. It’s the parents fault, not the drugs. Same thing with guns. KEEP IT LOCKED UP SO KIDS DON’T GET TO IT! EDUCATE THEM SO THEY UNDERSTAND- DON’T JUST TELL THEM “Oh, don’t do it, it’s bad.” Kids don’t understand that under any circumstance. Explain to them what it does, or keep it away from them. Personally, I choose education.
      4.) What happened to three? Whatever. This is likely your best point- but gambling and lotteries aren’t the same as taxing alcohol or cigarettes, now is it? And the money we’re draining from civilians for this holy crusade against drugs(namely marijuana) is saving us money? Even if it doesn’t materialize, at least we’re not just blowing our money away on a pointless cause and watching it flush down the drain in this constant stand-still of “The War on Drugs.” Again, it is not cannabis’s fault that the Government cannot properly manage their money, so quit putting innocent people in jail for the Government’s blunders!
      7.) Umm….. seven?
      Ahahahaha. Sorry, I have to laugh at this. So, just because they’ll find other illegal things- things which REALLY harm other people- we should just target the easy, harmless thing whose only harm comes from the illegality of said substance? Chances are, they’re already doing all this harmful crap anyway. But oh, why would we want to free up our resources to stop prostitution, cocaine, heroin, and meth trafficking? And the point is, they’d at least be stunned from losing nearly HALF their profits, perhaps giving us a even chance to stop or suppress it. To say they’d just replace it as an excuse to keep weed illegal- it’s lazy and ignorant to the way they run their criminal organization. Another point to make is the fact that we could target the REAL horrors of crime, not this pseudo-crime called marijuana. But, that’s right, we’re just raging stoners with no reasoning, right? Boy, how we deserve to be incarcerated with the child rapists and murderers and crack-heads and meth addicts, who don’t even know the true bounds of anger since they aren’t stoners. How silly of me to think of peace after smoking weed.

    • Annamaria / August 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm / Reply

      you’re an idiot…. it doesn’t create holes in the brain…i’m sorry do you see a bunch of pot heads beating their wives, looking cracked out? just because there are irresponsible people out there doesn’t mean all are because in that case let’s make alcohol illegal again so that all the people who have died from drunk drivers can be respected. unless you are sober 24/7 i don’t want to great your hypocritical shit

  19. vstet428 / June 28, 2010 at 7:30 am / Reply

    YES! And i agree with pelon that politicians need to STEP UP and treat the issue with a little dignity. The closest thing we have is gov. Gary Johnson I suppose.

  20. Nicky D Marrs / June 25, 2010 at 5:27 pm / Reply

    Lawman, U Been smoking a long time, I see why now we cant trust cops!
    See Barry Cooper,he is now on the side of legal activist and will tell you whats worse ,the use or the laws against the usw, He is aware the laws have destroyed far more in lives of people than pot!
    Seems if pot has gotten better over the years, the potheads must have a brain after all!
    Kids if you dont smoke think hard before you start,never do anything without thinking, or because someone else does, be your own person,row your own boat, Its KOOL TO BE DIFFERENT!
    Sincerely Your brother! Nick

  21. M / June 24, 2010 at 11:36 am / Reply

    What about all the biodiesel we could make w/o raiding food crops? What about the plastics that can be made from the oil? Cannabis could play a significant role in an energy solution that we are desperate for.

  22. ron / June 23, 2010 at 10:01 pm / Reply

    Perhaps and era of peace and harmony would fall across the land, and everyone could chill out and reacquaint themselves with the nations early pioneer ethic–live and let live.

    • MLD / June 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm / Reply

      have at it, ron:)!

  23. Lawman / June 23, 2010 at 9:48 pm / Reply

    One thing this article is missing. Pot is not the “pot” I grew up with. Through selective breeding The pot in my day the active ingrediant THC was around 5%; NOW it is around 25%.
    You see allot of today’s “Potheads” more violent and crimes increased. You do not see the stereo type pothead like you saw in the Cheech and Chongs movies…
    So to the article writer you need to do more accurate writing..

    • Frank / June 24, 2010 at 12:01 am / Reply

      I would really like to see the proof of the above statement, sounds like more of the evil brainwash to me.

    • nccourts.org / June 24, 2010 at 1:53 am / Reply

      lawman is a very stupid person.

    • Pelon / June 24, 2010 at 3:55 am / Reply

      You mustv’e never enjoyed a relaxing smoke. Any relation to Harry J. Anslinger?

      • MLD / June 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm / Reply

        Pelon ~wanna hang out?!?

    • kidding right / June 24, 2010 at 9:41 pm / Reply

      You are joking correct. Please reference one study or article where marijuana and violence Re related. The only violence related to marijuana is due to it being illegal and controlled by gangs. Do some research before you share your thoughts.

    • Briannn / June 28, 2010 at 12:17 pm / Reply

      False. Studies have shown that agencies with special interests in keeping pot illegal skewed those numbers by taking the worst pot from back in the day and the best pot from today. Not only that, but increased THC levels isn’t a bad thing. It’s like drinking wine instead of light beer–you simply use less. Besides, studies also show that marijuana DECREASES agression, so higher THC levels would mean less violence.

      P.S. If you haven’t seen the typical “Cheech and Chong” smokers nowadays, you haven’t opened your eyes.

    • J.UK / December 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm / Reply

      This simply is not true, yes cannbis potency has increased over the last 20-30 years and yes there are types of hashish and resin available in Canada and Holland that break the 20% THC mark but these are rarities. Most street bud is between 10-15% THC if that. I suggest you research your statement and write more accurately.

      I have smoked for 8 years and i have travelled and smoked in many countries as well grown it so i consider myself a fairly reliable source.

      • J.UK / December 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm / Reply

        Oh and also i agree with Briannn look at the people around all the stoners i know are just normal everyday people with jobs or in university and college, not gang members and dangerous criminals. Don’t be part of the right wing paranoia generation!!!!!

  24. Jack / June 23, 2010 at 7:56 pm / Reply

    I cannot believe that this is an issue that we are still debating. With all the gang violence and drug cartels fighting for control of the illegal drug distribution networks, lack of tax dollars for important matters, and over crowding in prisons, it is a no brainer…. Wake Up America!

  25. Gina Marie / June 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm / Reply

    Not addressed is the old “slippery slope” argument, that MJ is an entry way drug leading to use of other, more dangerous and addictive drugs. That occurs not through the nature of MJ itself, but through association with drug dealers, who have a business interest in getting their customers hooked, and through the experience of serving jail time, and getting to know all of the wonderful and interesting people there, who know a lot about all kinds of dangerous and addictive drugs, behaviors, and activities.

    • Pelon / June 24, 2010 at 3:51 am / Reply

      We would not be associating with drug dealers, we would be buying at 7-11, Stripes, and of course Wal-Mart. Also not addressed in the article are all the Hemp products, clothing, animal feed, etc. plus I would not have to worry of getting tainted Mexican cannabis. We just need politicians with “cojones” to start the ball rolling, but this issue is tabboo in political circles, even if they are passing “it” around the room. I will move to California the “day after”, if it were legalized. I just think something will come along and derail the election process which will annul the bill. Well See.

      Adios for now, Amigos.

    • Kelsey / September 21, 2010 at 10:01 pm / Reply

      Marijuana is non-addictive and is NOT a gateway drug. Learn your facts.

  26. Israel Sands / June 22, 2010 at 11:21 pm / Reply

    It seems to me that if marijuana were legal, there would be LESS money spent on emergency rooms: if people smoke pot instead of drinking, I think that driving ability would be less impaired leading to fewer accidents. Also, there would be a wonderful decrease in violence… especially domestic violence. The problem: the liquor industry and its lobby would fight a huge battle against marijuana legalization, they are probably doing it now proactively, behind the scenes. But the only way that there will ever be progress in this area is to politicize it, to get the younger people to make their voice heard. It would be a slow process, and the sooner we start, the better.

  27. John S. Keating / June 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm / Reply

    This article makes perfect sense, of course. We know from our own history that Prohibition is an epic failure. Only the Al Capones of the world profit from it. Everyone else loses.

    In states where the law cannot be changed by referendum, as it can be in California, change will only come when we have enough politicians who are brave enough to stand up to the Christian Right and other social conservatives, who see the “War on Drugs” as a quasi-religious moral imperative on a par with the Crusades — in total disregard of the mountain of empirical evidence as to its staggering cost and utter futility. That change is likely to come only gradually, as the “Never Tried It, Never Will, But I’m More Than Happy to Judge It” generation slowly joins the great Three Martini Lunch in the sky…

  28. J Story / May 28, 2010 at 4:58 pm / Reply

    But what about the DEA agents thrown out of work? Think of the children!!

    It’s long been a puzzle to me that costly but ineffective drug interdiction efforts should keep weighing down government budgets, despite all the other pressing issues. Someday there may be a stark choice to make between feeding grandma and letting someone, somewhere have a good time.

    • beci / June 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm / Reply

      the dea agents would still have harder more dangerous drugs to bust. they would not be out of work.

    • Pelon / June 24, 2010 at 3:58 am / Reply

      They could always open up a Dispensary.

    • Briannn / June 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm / Reply

      The DEA could go after drugs that are actually dangerous….Instead of wasting their time with an herb that does far less damage than alcohol….

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