300 economists approached U.S politicians with facts and knowledge? I’m sure their advice will be well received:
Over 300 economists have signed on to an open letter to the President, Congress, Governors, and State Legislators asking them to allow this “country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition.” The petition states that the undersigned “believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods.”
Notably, three of the economists who have already signed on are Nobel Laureates. Three hundred plus additional economic scholars have already signed on, you can view the list and more details here. Full text of the petition letter is below:
We, the undersigned, call your attention to the attached report by Professor Jeffrey A. Miron, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. The report shows that marijuana legalization — replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation — would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.
The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy. Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm.
We therefore urge the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition. We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods. At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.
You can view media coverage of this effort here.
Well 50% – 55% of Americans already believe cannabis should be legalised, while 45% – 49% believe it should remain illegal. So there is a definite and irrefutable majority and support for legalization has been steadily rising for decades and shows no signs of stopping. Here’s a source. And another one.
However there are some major problems to overcome. First, the sad fact is a majority of your Congress members are corrupt and on the payroll of various corporations and lobby groups; most of whom either don’t want to see cannabis legalised because it would be bad for business, or are indifferent to it all.
In addition, you have a system for electing your President (The Electoral College) that actually allows the loser to win. This has happened three times in your history; most recently in 2000 with George Bush Jr’s election. This same system means that people in large states have their votes count for less than people in small states. One person’s vote in Wyoming counts for no less than four people’s votes in California.
Third, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in the Whitehouse is bound by law to oppose any legalisation attempts, and there are a number of flaws in the Controlled Substances Act of 1971 involving the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that make it very hard to make progress without seriously re-writing the law and restructuring the entire makeup of federal agencies and how our drug laws work for even legal drugs. Also the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a terrible organisation and gets in the way of legalisation as well.
Given these facts, I wouldn’t be surprised if nothing happened until support reaches the 65 % – 70% mark.