Should marijuana be legalized? According to 46% of California’s voting citizens, the answer is yes! For these voters, they believe that the legalization of marijuana will “cut law enforcement costs, raise tax revenue, and make it harder for children to get marijuana.” From an economic perspective, I have to agree with them. However, I don’t think their argument is complete as I believe they have failed to factor new negative externalities which I believe will emerge if it were legalized. For example, what added social costs will emerge? By what percentage will productivity decrease with more employees missing work by either forgetting to go or by needing increased medical treatments?
This is an interesting topic for examination as I believe it has numerous discussion points. For example, in regards to the price of marijuana, I believe that if it were legalized we would see an increase in price in the short-run with supply remaining the same and demand shifting rightward. Then, in the long-run, I can see the price falling with both a rightward shift in demand and an even greater rightward shift in supply. If the government’s only purpose in legalizing marijuana was to make the price drop and make it safer for consumers (FDA would be involved) then the legalization of the drug makes sense.
However, if the government’s intent is to save money by decreasing law enforcement costs and raising tax revenue, then I believe their argument is flawed as externalities in addition to hard costs need to be considered.
Although the California citizens voted against the legalization of marijuana, I believe that the topic will continue to resurface until it eventually passes.