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Thomas Rekdal

Am I the only one perplexed by these postings? Becker I can follow and more or less agree with, but Posner mystifies me. He says that the "net benefits" favor decriminalization of the drug, but does not think it follows from this that a federal law to that effect would be a good idea. So it is a good idea to enforce federal law against the policy of two states that allow recreational use, and attempt to stop the unstoppable use of the drug? I don't get it. I also have no idea what Jack is talking about.


Even with Guzman out of the picture (hate to say this, but someone's already replaced him and he may yet disappear due to corruption and bribes to various officials. Not too mention, how many acres were under pot cultivation in Wisconsin and these are the acres we know about). It comes down to a simple question of "Product", "Supply" and "Demand". Whether it's "Elastic" or "Inelastic" is immaterial. As we have seen, if a product is criminalized, the "Smugglers" and "Blackmarket" take control. If legitimate, the "Retailers" and "Whitemarket". As for costs, don't forget the Criminolgy costs and the Penology costs that have been incurred by the criminalisation of "the product". As we say in the Chicago area, "Statesville is just another "Charm School" or Institution of "Higher Learning" depending on who you talk to. Remember, the "Drug War" has created a Boom in the Penal, Criminolgy and Enforcement Industries. "Cost and Benefits"?...

jim kirby

I fail to understand the argument for continuing to punish producers and purveyors of marijuana. Like the day-after pill, once we decide that a woman has a right to get it, we should praise, not condemn, anyone who helps her get it.

Terry Bennett

Senior to all of these concerns is freedom, which necessarily includes freedom to engage in questionable behavior (and I speak as a non-participant). The original grounds on which the right to use marijuana was taken away were dubious at best (or should I say doobie-ous?). I do not see where there is anything approaching a compelling state interest to justify putting this limit on our liberty and pursuit of happiness. Even worse, the regime itself has created a whole class of social problems that would not exist had our grandfathers not taken issue with the substance in the 1930's.

I have been amazed at the resistance to even medical legalization, considering we let doctors dispense things like morphine. Now it does seem like the dam has broken, and the millions of people who already use it can now keep doing what they're doing, minus the stress.

What I would like to see is a continued demand for individual responsibility. I have always thought the opium den was a great idea, a place where you can safely go and take an action that will render you unable to control yourself, without risking hurt to anyone else - sort of like a bar where they make you sleep it off before you can leave. Every state has forceful drunk driving laws, a big neon sign telling people, "We don't want you to do this!" Still, every week in court I see lots of DUI's, including lots of repeat offenders. Obviously, the penalties are not enough to dissuade these people from putting my life at risk. I would be fine with legalizing marijuana and other drugs, if the legislature would simultaneously amend the statutes to the effect that a person who drives a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in any amount, has committed an attempted murder, with a mandatory minimum 15-year sentence. If there is actually a fatality, it should be first degree murder - the ingestion was pre-meditated.

Back in the 60's, the flower children used to say, "Do whatever you want to do, be whatever you want to be, just as long as you don't hurt anybody." As moral codes go, it's not at all bad.

B Wilds

In the last decade, due almost solely to the surge in drug-related arrests, U.S. prisons are massively overcrowded and underfunded. The rehabilitation aspect of incarceration is slim to nil. Marijuana constitutes almost half of all drug arrests, and between 1990–2002, marijuana accounted for 82% of the increase in the number of drug arrests. In 2004, approximately 12.7% of state prisoners and 12.4% of Federal prisoners were serving time for a marijuana-related offense. Today more than ever, the fear that President Carter voiced in 1977 that penalties for drugs are doing more damage than drugs themselves rings true. More about the massive cost of our war on drugs in the post below,


Hi! First, I'd likw ro say to Richard Posner that you are a truly amazing mind. You belong on the Supreme Court and in my estimation you are the best judge in the land. However, I disagree with your view on marijuana legalization. My view is that marijuana destroys the subjects brain who uses it and leads to lowered inhabitions leading to a move away from wellness and health. I believe that this question should be framed differently. I think that pragmatically we all agree that imprisoning people for marijuana use hasn't worked. But I also think that we would all agree that people who use marijuana do not maximize their wealth and generally run into many life problems. I think we need to develop a new instituion which besides the prison, hospital, and asylum that historically, along with many additional instituitons, dealt with users before . I think it should be a collaborative effort and we should seriously study the work of the thinkers who have and are and will work on this problem. Yes, legalization solves problems that we are facing. But can we honestly say that we leave these people any better off than if we were to be positive role models and help them maxmize their wealth and learn to labour with it reducing the need for waste.

Eric Rasmusen

The first question to be answered is: Would you rather live in a society with marijuana, or without? That is, would you be happy if a disease suddenly made marijuana go extinct?
I would guess that most people who read blogs, or perhaps even who read, would indeed like that. (The discussion would be interesting, though.)
A second question is: Would a society with marijuana be a better one? Note that even someone who personally likes using marijuana might answer "Yes", just as a burglar might prefer a society without burglary.
Only then can we go on to the question of whether making marijuana illegal is a good idea, given that it limits freedom and that law enforcement is costly but that also its illegality channels criminals into that endeavor rather than, say, extortion.

Eric Rasmusen

It is good that Colorado has legalized marijuana. We will in a few years have more evidence as to whether legalization helps or hurts.


I guess I'm just curious as to how we can accurately understand the externalities of decriminalizing marijuana on a national level. I follow the argument in its comparison of marijuana being no less destructive than alcohol in terms of social cost, but I would be cautious to say that it is less, only because the comparison seemed to pit an abuse of alcohol with the recreational use of marijuana. Don't get me wrong, I believe that alcohol abuse if very serious and is a very underdeveloped externality, but I think it's important to realize that the potential for marijuana abuse can't be overlooked when measuring decriminalization.

I'm reading in the news that Colorado actually is reaping enormous financial benefits from legalizing the drug and yes, I'm sure the state government is probably pretty happy about the revenue from the heavy excise taxes, but what would be Colorado's long term affects in terms of productivity, health, culture, etc. and would it be an accurate model for all the other states?

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