Monday, April 30, 2012

Regulating the right things

I have covered the principles behind what society should regulate and what is clearly a waste of time and money in Elevator Speech #8.  So one more time, YES you regulate the banksters and financial transactions.  And NO, you do not regulate most sex practices or the consumption of recreational drugs.  But here are some hard numbers that demonstrate #8.

Hundreds of Economists: Marijuana Prohibition Costs Billions, Legalization Would Earn Billions

Ezekiel Edwards & Rebecca McCray

Over 300 economists, including three Nobel Laureates, recently signed a petition that encourages the president, Congress, governors and state legislatures to carefully consider marijuana legalization in America. The petition draws attention to an article by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, whose findings highlight the substantial cost-savings our government could incur if it were to tax and regulate marijuana, rather than needlessly spending billions of dollars enforcing its prohibition.

Miron predicts that legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement, in addition to generating $2.4 billion annually if taxed like most consumer goods, or $6 billion per year if taxed similarly to alcohol and tobacco. The economists signing the petition note that the budgetary implications of marijuana prohibition are just one of many factors to be considered, but declare it essential that these findings become a serious part of the national decriminalization discussion.

The advantages of marijuana legalization extend far beyond an opportunity to make a dent in our federal deficit. The criminalization of marijuana is one of the many fights in the War on Drugs that has failed miserably. And while it's tempting to associate only the harder, "scarier" drugs with this botched crusade, the fact remains that marijuana prohibition is very much a part of the battle. The federal government has even classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance (its most serious category of substances), placing it in a more dangerous category than cocaine. More than 800,000 people are arrested for marijuana use and possession each year, and 46 percent of all drug prosecutions across the country are for marijuana possession. Yet this costly and time-consuming targeting of marijuana users by law enforcement and lawmakers has done little to quell use of the drug.

The criminalization of marijuana has not only resulted in a startlingly high number of arrests, it also reflects the devastating disparate racial impact of the War on Drugs. Despite ample evidence that marijuana is used more frequently by white people, Blacks and Latinos account for a grossly disproportionate percentage of the 800,000 people arrested annually for marijuana use and possession. These convictions hinder one's ability to find or keep employment, vote or gain access to affordable housing. The fact that these hard-to-shake consequences – bad enough as they are — are suffered more frequently by a demographic that uses marijuana less makes our current policies toward marijuana all the more unfair, unwise and unacceptable. more
Here is an insurance provider that believes pot smokers are actually better drivers.  This doesn't surprise me one bit.

Marijuana Users Are Safer Drivers Than Non-Marijuana Users, New Study Shows

A new study released by United States auto insurance quote provider shows that statistically speaking, marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users.

New York (PRWEB) April 06, 2012

In a recent study,, a national quote provider for online car insurance quotes, cites a strong correlation between traffic-related accidents and marijuana use. The study, which looks at statistics regarding accidents, traffic violations, and insurance prices, seeks to dispel the thought that “driving while stoned” is dangerous.

In the study, points out that the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving. says, while referencing a study by the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), that driving slower “is arguably a positive thing” and that driving under the influence of marijuana “might even make you a safer driver.” A similar study by the NHTSA shows that drivers with THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in their system have accident responsibility rates below that of drug free drivers.

In fact, a recent study shows that use of medical marijuana has caused traffic related fatalities to drop by up to nine percent in states that have legalized its use. This study, titled “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption”, conducted by Mark Anderson and Daniel Rees in November 2011, shows that increased marijuana use amongst adults has decreased alcohol related traffic deaths in said states. This study provides solid evidence that marijuana is not only a safe substitute for alcohol, but it also makes for more safer drivers.

“Marijuana users often say that when they are high, they feel like they are driving 80 miles per hour but actually are only going 30 miles per hour,” CEO James Shaffer says, “when somebody is drunk driving, on the other hand, they often feel like they are driving 30 miles per hour but are actually driving 80 miles per hour. This is what makes alcohol dangerous behind the wheel, and marijuana safe.”

As an auto insurance quote provider, says that marijuana use can also have an indirect effect on insurance rates. Because of the correlation between marijuana use and accident responsibility rates, they say, marijuana users, as a whole, can expect to see lower insurance rates than non-marijuana users.

“The hypocrisy of it all is that if you get caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you will be fined and perhaps thrown into jail. What's worse is that your insurance rates will definitely increase due to the traffic violation,” says Mr. Shaffer, “What law enforcement agencies and insurers do not understand is that driving while high is actually a safe activity. I guess the key to safer driving is to use marijuana, but to do it under-wraps.” more

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