A common justification for marijuana legalization goes something like this:
“We should just tax it and regulate it like we do alcohol and tobacco. We could use some of that money to help with the costs of addiction treatment.”
Yeah, um, no.
Substance abusers and addicts rack up big costs to taxpayers. Look no further than alcohol and tobacco for a guide to what awaits our nation if we were to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Please don’t merely write that you “disagree” with the facts presented here. Come up with stats of your own that show why these generated by the Office of National Drug Control Policy are off base:
- Tobacco is legal. It is taxed and regulated. Its use is our nation’s No. 1 cause of preventable death. In 2007, federal and state governments collected approximately $25 billion in taxes from the sale of tobacco products. But what did we spend on problems associated with tobacco use? $200 billion.
- Alcohol is legal. It is taxed and regulated. Its use is our nation’s 3rd leading cause of preventable death. In 2007, federal and state governments collected approximately $14.5 billion in revenue from the sale of alcohol. That covered only 10 percent of the $185 billion our nation spent to address problems associated with alcohol, including healthcare, criminal justice, traffic deaths, lost productivity and on and on and on.
(For inquiring minds, diet-related illness is the United States’ No. 2 leading cause of preventable death.)