Study: Marijuana Legalization Would Put $149 Million in Missouri's Pocket

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Show-Me Cannabis
Imagine a world where pot is legal, regulated, and taxed. In this world, Missouri is rolling around in a giant pile of money and making it rain all over the place.

That's according to a new study released by the National Cannabis Coalition in conjunction with Show-Me Cannabis. The group commissioned the study from Harvard University economist Dr. Jeffrey Miron as a way to put some cold, hard figures on their marijuana legalization and regulation bill.

The $149 million comes from several different places, but mostly from no longer having to police and prosecute pot smokers.

According to Show-Me Cannabis's John Payne, the group commissioned the study while their 2012 legalization campaign was still alive and well. Because of that, Missouri's study came out first, but he says there will be studies for all 50 states at some point.

According to Dr. Miron's figures, Missouri's government would save $90 million annually and generate $59 million from taxing legalized marijuana like cigarettes and booze.

It's not hard to see where the $90 million comes from. In 2011, there were 22,113 arrests made in Missouri over pot and 91.5 percent of those were for possession. Imagine all that gets thrown out the window -- no more cops trolling for smokers, planning stings on dealers; no more court cases for prosecutors, judges, or public defenders; no more paying to put up tokers in Le Hotel Clink. That's a lot of free money all of the sudden.

Interestingly, Miron says that the $149 million figure is roughly the same for all the states, should they choose to legalize pot. And though he concedes his study has generated criticism from both those who say the figures are inflated and those who say they're too small, the exact dollar amount isn't as important as the fundamental question behind the debate.

"I don't think we should care about the shape of this, the crucial thing to me is making it legal reather than illegal," he says. "The main thing I hope people think about is, 'Why should the government be intervening with individuals using marijuana?"

Read a full summary of the paper here.

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Jay Dee said: "This would just cause the creation of yet a new bureau,"


The marijuana business has been estimated to be about the size of the beer market - about 100 billion per year. You have only three choices for who will run the trade, make all the rules for production, distribution, and sales, and collect all the billions that come from it. The choices are:


1) Government, with proper regulations and taxes to address social problems

2) Private business, with proper regulations and taxes to address social problems

3) Organized crime, with no regulations or taxes to address social problems


Maybe you and your friends can explain which one you think will give us the best control.


Jacob J. DeVore said: "Seems to me that legalization is just a more complex form of regulation than that which is already in place."


It seems pretty clear that you really don't understand the laws. For openers, try reading the story of how these laws came about at  It is a funny story and not anything close to what you expected.


BTW Christopher, "Drugs are  bad" is not the same as "prohibition is the best solution."


The best example of this is alcohol. Alcohol accounts for about half of all deaths from homicide, suicide, auto accidents, fires, and drowning. It also accounts for about half of all domestic abuse, two-thirds of all sexual assaults on children, and up to forty percent of all inpatient hospital care. All the illegal drugs combined don't even come close to the toll of alcohol, and they never have.


If any drug was going to be prohibited because it is dangerous, then alcohol is the most obvious choice. But we tried outlawing alcohol and it was a disaster. Among other things, it caused the biggest teen drinking epidemic the US has ever seen, as well as corruption so rampant that they were sending corrupt cops to prison literally by the trainload. You can read more about it at


In fact, alcohol was the worst possible solution for alcohol. It caused a lot of problems and didn't solve any. The same thing applies with prohibition of other drugs.


Hey Christopher, have you read the studies at under Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy? That collection includes the full text of every major government commission on drugs from around the world over the last 100 years. It includes the largest studies ever done by the governments of the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia, just to mention a few. These are the most comprehensive examinations of the drug laws ever done.


I will give you a hint. Not one of them agrees with you. There has never been a major government reported that supported prohibition. The reason is that the drug laws never were about protecting public health and safety.


Marijuana was outlawed for two major reasons. The first was because "All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy." The second was the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana - exactly the opposite of the modern gateway idea. The American Medical Association opposed the law, saying that there was no evidence that marijuana was a dangerous drug and no reason for the law. In response, the congressional committee told the AMA to shut up and leave.


The only other "expert" to testify was James Munch. His sole claim to fame was that he had injected mj directly into the brains of 300 dogs and two of them died. When they asked him what he concluded from this, he said he didn't know what to conclude because he wasn't a dog psychologist. He also testified in court, under oath, that mj could make your fangs grow six inches and drip with blood. He also said that, when he tried it, it turned him into a bat, and then he described how he flew around the room for two hours.


Mr. Munch was the only "expert" in the US who thought that mj should be illegal, so he was appointed US Official Expert on marijuana, where he served and made policy for 25 years.


The law was absolute lunacy passed by lunatics. You can find the story at You can find lots of other histories and original documents at


Do you still believe that mj will turn you into a bat? If you don't, then you disagree with the longest-serving marijuana expert the US Government has ever had.

Jay Dee
Jay Dee

Yep Jacob, much like what I was thinking. This would just cause the creation of yet a new bureau, we'd 1st have to raise taxes to fund the bureau that would monitor and police the collection of taxes created with regulation of this product. Best case scenario, it's break even. The expense of the enforcement of the new rules is only barely covered by the new revenue stream. Big damned waste of time. Kind of like the lottery funding education - another god damned lie.

Jacob DeVore
Jacob DeVore

Seems to me that legalization is just a more complex form of regulation than that which is already in place. If growing & distributing marijuana is going to become a legitimate form of commerce, then you can trade police, courts, and jail for politicians, bureaucracy, and tax enforcement. Weed will always cost the state money, whether it's in the judiciary or the executive & legislative branches. Anyone can purchase a study; show me some objective work. Those firmly in the dope hope camp need to focus on the moral/medical angles and less on the economic arguments, because I think we're ultimately going to find the public costs of the new regulation as expensive as the costs of the "old" regulation. Just look at tobacco. When it happens, as a matter of public policy, it'll be worse than tobacco is today.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

the resulting boost in funyun sales would create hundreds of jobs.


 The War on Drugs failed $1 Trillion ago! This money could have been used for outreach programs to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing, free rehab, and clean needles. Harmless drugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy. Cannabis can provide hemp for countless natural resources and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state in our country out of the red! Vote Teapot, PASS IT, and legalize it. Voice you opinion with the movement and read more on my artist’s blog at  


I have not read this economic study but others I have read always seem to downplay the social and health costs of increased MJ use. The straightforward health cost of increased illness associated with smoking anything are obvious, loss of worker days, social security payemnts etc


There are other social costs, the underperformance academically of teenage dope users, the teratogenenic effects (on unborn babies).


The vehicle and industrial accidents.


The list goes on and on.


MJ is not known as "dope" for nothing.


They need to come at it with a more pro active campaign. make it a two part system, one side for medicinal and the other must be earned by completing community service work, such as picking up trash, do a flash mob trash pick up....  There are plenty of ways to make this work and put back into our communities in more ways than just financial gains.  I am a local artist that builds pipes from used bullet shells, but I also make other items to make a difference and re-purpose many items that are normally discarded as trash. 

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