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Saturday Morning Debate: Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

May 23, 2009

From the Freakonomics blog at the New York Times, a debate among economists, pharmaceutical professionals, law enforcement personnel and others with regard to the possible consequences of legalizing marijuana. Some samples of the argument:

CON: With all of our current problems, Americans do not need more marijuana. Pot combines mind-altering and judgment-clouding qualities (like alcohol) with carcinogenic, respiratory, and second-hand smoke qualities (like tobacco); it is emphatically not a safe or benign substance.

PRO:Legalization would reduce violence. In underground markets, participants cannot resolve their disputes with lawyers, courts, or advertising, so they employ violence instead. Violence was common in the alcohol industry during alcohol prohibition, but not before or after; in gambling markets before state and federal governments legalized most forms of gambling; and in prostitution markets where prohibition forces these underground. Legalization would also reduce corruption, since producers and consumers would have no reason to bribe police, judges, and politicians.

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