The Institute for Social and Economic Research, with the University of Essex, recently concluded a study into a cost benefit analysis of regulating and taxing marijuana in England and Wales. The study examined the potential economic benefits of regulation, as well as examining the possible social costs and social benefits of a policy change. The study, which was led by economics professor Stephen Pudney, found that England and Wales could save up to £300m per year on policing, prosecuting, and treatment if marijuana were regulated. Furthermore, by taxing marijuana, England and Wales stand to make a possible £900m per year. According to the study, the total possible tax benefit would be around £1.25 billion per year.
When attempting to quantify social costs and benefits, the researchers considered implications on mental health, what value marijuana users place on the benefits of marijuana, as well as other social factors. When examining the possibility of regulated marijuana causing a gateway for users to harsher illicit drugs, which previous studies have shown to be false, the researchers here also concluded that the gateway effect was weak or negligible. The real risk of a gateway effect, they said, is on the side of distribution, a risk that would be decreased with regulation.
Another greatly exaggerated focus of the public debate on cannabis policy is the “gateway effect” – the possible increase in risk of involvement in hard drugs caused by exposure to cannabis. In our view, the evidence for a large gateway effect among cannabis consumers is weak, and there is an often-overlooked offsetting gateway on the supply side, drawing cannabis users into drug dealing. Licensing of supply might lead to a rise in demand and thus harm through the demand gateway, but it would also remove many people from illicit cannabis supply and thus reduce harm through the supply gateway. We estimate the reform could generate a net external benefit in the range £20-80m under the most plausible assumption of a moderate demand increase.
The report concluded with a call for more research into marijuana consumption, price, and potency. Want to know more? Read the full report here.
Singer, poet, public speaker, and talk show host Henry Rollins has joined the growing ranks of public figures who support ending marijuana prohibition.
Rollins is not a marijuana user, either. As more and more people realize that marijuana prohibition is a harmful failure, the myth that only potheads want to make it legal is continuing to fade into the hazy realm of reefer madness.
For decades, prohibitionists have claimed that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that inevitably leads to use of harder substances like heroin and cocaine — despite the fact that every objective study ever done on the gateway theory has determined that it’s absolute crap.
Last week, researchers at the University of New Hampshire released yet another study discrediting the gateway theory. Their findings, based on survey data from more than 1,200 students in Florida public schools, showed that a person’s likelihood to use harder drugs has more to do with social and environmental factors than whether or not they’ve ever tried marijuana.
“There seems to be this idea that we can prevent later drug problems by making sure kids never smoke pot,” lead researcher Dr. Karen Van Gundy, associate professor of sociology at UNH, told CBS News. “But whether marijuana smokers go on to use other illicit drugs depends more on social factors like being exposed to stress and being unemployed – not so much whether they smoked a joint in the eighth grade.” Continue reading →
The question of why some kids start using alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and other drugs at a young age remains a source of controversy. How much of a role do genes play? The environment — peers, parents, educational efforts? What about the “gateway theory,” the idea that one drug — marijuana is the most likely to be blamed — leads to use of others?
A new study of twins recently published online by the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggests that genes may play a large role, but to some degree every drug is a gateway drug. Continue reading →
Bruce’s interview occurs at about 6:40 on the video below. In it, he shoots down the “gateway” myth, demonstrates prohibition’s many failures, and points out how absurd it is that of the 100 million Americans who have used marijuana, anybody should care that one of them is Michael Phelps.