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Pot Legal in Nevada Saturday:   Marijuana will become legal in Nevada on July 1st, but cannot be smoked everywhere in the state.  Andrew Craft of Fox News reports that while state voters passed a ballot measure making it legal to possess an ounce of pot, the debate continues regarding where it can be smoked.  State gaming regulators have barred public consumption of the drug on the Las Vegas Strip or any casino or hotel because it is still illegal under federal law and allowing its use might jeopardize gaming licenses.  Purchasers of marijuana will pay a 30-35% tax, which some legislators believe will generate millions in revenue.  State officials in Alaska expected the state to rake in $12 million in tax revenue from pot sales after it was legalized in 2015.  However only $692,929 had actually been received as of October of 2016. 

Black Market Flourishing in Colorado:  "The black market for marijuana has not gone away since recreational marijuana was legalized in our state, and in fact continues to flourish," Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said in a recent statement.  Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press reports that a Denver grand jury recently indicted 62 people and 12 businesses in a massive pot trafficking ring which posed as a medical marijuana operation when it was actually growing and shipping the drug to other states.  "Since 2014 there has been an influx of these organized criminal groups to Colorado for the sole purpose of producing marijuana to sell in other states," said a DEA official.   Back in April, the Washington Post reported that in Colorado, the number of marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 48% after the state legalized recreational use of the drug.   

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I believe in Colorado, tax revenues from legalized marijuana started below expectations and then over time exceeded estimates. It will be interesting to see if Alaska and Nevada see a similar tax pattern.

Another premise behind the legalization of MJ debunked:

legalization has not and will not destroy the Black Market in MJ or any other drug.


And how much did marijuana legalization cost the Colorado economy in lost productivity and other direct and indirect costs?

Excellent question, Tarls, and one that I do not have a ready answer for. A pro-reform group estimated that, in 2015, the legal marijuana industry in Colorado created more than 18,000 new full-time jobs and generated $2.4 billion in economic activity: http://www.mjpolicygroup.com/pubs/MPG%20Impact%20of%20Marijuana%20on%20Colorado-Final.pdf

Running the other way, a former drug czar has estimated that we have $10 of costs from alcohol use for every $1 in tax revenue raised.

These number are very important, but hard to quantify in ways that are uncontroversial. Thus, as with lots of other issues, the question may be whether the value of freedom is worth some of its potential costs from those who will misuse this freedom.

"Freedom" to smoke pot is probably the most trivial "freedom" I ever heard of. Back in the day, it was simply referred to as "getting stoned."

But for however that may be, even if it were a "freedom" worth exerting any effort to secure, here's the news: We already have it. For every hundred times a joint gets lit up, how many times does the smoker wind up in trouble with a judge?

Correct. Rounded off to the nearest whole number, the answer is zero.

We have as much pot "freedom" as we can realistically use, that being more "freedom" than we have to light up a regular cigarette in any public (and most private) buildings.

What we could work on is the freedom, now in nationwide jeopardy, for unpopular (i.e., conservative) viewpoints to be presented on campus without the speaker having to fear for his/her safety.

But don't you agree that having a conversation about pot legalization without having the numbers I request is useless at best and dishonest at worst?

It's like asking people to judge the rule of Mussolini with only the information that he made the trains run on time.

"In May 2015, an article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that there is a likely statistical association between illicit drug use, including marijuana, and workplace accidents..."

"Studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse have found that marijuana negatively impacts driving performance, and other researchers have found that acute use of the drug increases the risk of crashes and fatal collisions."

"In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, since medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2009, the percentage of marijuana-positive drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes there has increased significantly."

"Issues with attendance and productivity also can arise from marijuana use, and morale may be impacted."

https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2016/02/01/Marijuana-Use-and-Its-Impact-on-Workplace-Safety-and-Productivity.aspx?Page=1

Of course, that is only workplace and safety.

We also have studies that indicate it is not safer than alcohol, causes financial (users earn less than their parents) problems, workplace, and relationship difficulties, many of which will result in the taxpayer needing to step in via counseling, welfare benefits, etc.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/cannabis-smokers-end-up-worse-7608737

Or that pot smokers are more likely to be abusive parents, which cascades down generations to the children needing social services and being more likely to be abusive in their adulthood. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4593739/

And that is just the tip of the societal costs iceberg.

I contend that it is less than honest to crow about tax revenue without attempting to look at the rest of the iceberg.

Oh, and I would point out that the legalization claim that it would gut the black market (one I believe you pushed yourself) has already been proven to be an epic fib.

http://kdvr.com/2017/03/03/black-market-marijuana-business-booming/

Just curious, Douglas, does this "freedom" you yearn for extend to heroin, crack, meth, etc? Why or why not?

Excellent post.

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