Economic view of Legalized of Marijuana

| June 19, 2015

Economic view of Legalized of Marijuana

Washington and Colorado are the first states to legalize the personal use of marijuana. Many other states have legalized the medical use of the drug. Yet, the federal government and many other state governments continue to wage a so-called war on drugs, marijuana included, a war that is said to cost billions of dollars annually.

You are an economic advisor to the Arizona state legislature. Several lawmakers are considering sponsoring legislation to legalize marijuana for personal use in Arizona. Several others strongly oppose such legislation. Your task is to write a white paper–a position paper, that is, of 500 words–recommending to an exploratory committee whether the legislature as a whole should support or oppose such legalization.

Now, note this well: You are an economic advisor, not a moral advisor or a legal advisor. Your argument should be an economic one. That is to say, if you argue that marijuana should be illegal because it is evil or legal because it makes people feel really good, then you will be missing the point.

Instead, you need to base your argument, whatever side you support, on facts and figures and put it in economic terms. You might want to argue, for instance, that the government simply cannot afford to wage a war on drugs; that a free market should not be hampered by artificial barriers to trade; that productivity lost to minds clouded on drugs would be too costly for society to bear, or that the healthcare costs associated with treating drug-related illness argue against legalization; and so on.

Whatever your case, you will want to bring an economic concept to bear on your argument. Some that might be employed in an argument about the legalization of marijuana are scarcity, utility, the law of supply and the law of demand, moral hazard, and opportunity cost. Many others are pertinent, and it is up to you to decide which best supports your case.

Remember that your legislative audience is not trained in economics, so you will need to explain, in plain English, the meaning of the economic concept you choose.

Your white paper should be right around 500 words. If it is shorter than 475 words it is likely to be too slight, and if it is longer than 525 words it is likely to go unread. Either way, it will be ignored–and, as the syllabus explains, it will receive an automatic D.

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