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Unpublished Paper
LEGALIZING MARIJUANA: California's Pot of Gold?
ExpressO (2009)
  • Michael Vitiello
Legalizing Marijuana: California’s Post of Gold? Abstract: In early 2009, a member of the California Assembly put a bill in the hopper that would have legalized marijuana in an effort to raise tax revenue and to reduce prison costs. While the bill’s proponent withdrew the bill, he vowed to renew his efforts in the next term. Other prominent California officials, including Governor Schwarzenegger, have indicated their willingness to study legalization in light of California’s budget shortfall. For the first time in over thirty years, politicians are giving serious consideration to a proposal to legalize marijuana. But already, the public debate has degenerated into traditional passionate advocacy, with ardent prohibitionists raising the specter of doom and marijuana advocates promising over a billion dollars in tax revenues along with about a billion dollars in reduced prison costs. Rather than rehashing the old debate about legalizing marijuana, this essay offers a balanced view of the proposal to legalize marijuana, specifically as a measure to raise revenue and to reduce prison costs. It raises some of the central problems with proponents’ arguments, including how their goal of reducing prison costs effectively undercuts their goal of raising revenue. In addition, it challenges extravagant claims of the prohibitionists that legalizing marijuana will lead to significant increases in marijuana use and attendant social harm. In the end, the author offers a mild endorsement for legalization.
Publication Date
September 8, 2009
Citation Information
Michael Vitiello. "LEGALIZING MARIJUANA: California's Pot of Gold?" ExpressO (2009)
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