On the pro side in the ongoing debate over the legalization of marijuana, one of the most often cited arguments is that by legalizing marijuana, the United States could save a lot of money and could in fact, recover much money in tax revenues. Many of the ways the legalization of marijuana could affect the budget is described in a report by Jeffrey A. Miron called The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. Among other budgetary matters, “the report estimates that legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition.”
The tables below demonstrate the effect that the prohibition of marijuana has had on arrests. The first graph shows total arrests compared to arrests due to marijuana possession and arrests due to the sales and manufacturing of marijuana. The second graph compares the percentages of arrests due to marijuana possession and arrests due to the sales and manufacturing of marijuana compared to total arrests.
Following Miron’s reasoning, if marijuana were legalized, the government would be able to cut down on the expenditures it takes to prosecute these percentages of offenders. And they would also be able to raise revenue by taxing the sales of marijuana.