Milton Friedman, one of the doyens of the economics profession, is one of 500 economists who has just come out in favour of legalising marijuana. The push is centred around a new study by Boston University’s Jeffrey Miron, which looks at the costs and benefits of legalisation, and concludes that the savings of legalisation will be about $7.7 billion. The signatories include a healthy smattering of top US economists.
In a Forbes report on the study, Friedman is quoted as saying:
"There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana. $7.7 billion is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven’t even included the harm to young people. It’s absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes."
Just as interesting in the Forbes report is a discussion of which large US agricultural companies would dive into the market first.
The "multiple signatory letter from the nation’s top economists" is a hardy perennial in US public debate, but I don’t recall the last time we had one in Australia. Can anyone jog my memory?