Says Mr. Gettman:
Marijuana has become a pervasive and ineradicable part of the economy of the United States. The contribution of this market to the nation's gross domestic product is overlooked in the debate over effective control.Reminds me of several conversations I had with DEA and ATF agents nearly twenty years ago: they wanted to see marijuana legalized, or at least de-criminalized. In the scheme of things, they argued, there are far worse things we, as a society, and they, as law enforcement officers, ought to be worried about.
Like all profitable agricultural crops marijuana adds resources and value to the economy. The focus of public policy should be how to effectively control this market through regulation and taxation in order to achieve immediate and realistic goals, such as reducing teenage access.
Certainly, like any drug, there is room for abuse, and, like many drugs, it may not be healthy, at all... but this is, perhaps, one place where black and white thinking doesn't serve us very well.
One black and white, however, seems to be in the possible impact on the brain development of youth. Marijuana and alcohol and tobacco all likely have substantial negative impact on brain development at least through the teenage years. I'm amazed at what we are continuing to learn about the brain and brain development in our youth.
In the mean time, I wonder how much money the U.S. Treasury could earn by taxing a little boo?