That’s the amount of New Jersey state and local expenditures in 2016 on marijuana prohibition, according to a new study by the Cato Institute.
Academics and the media tend to focus on how legalization affects public health and criminal justice outcomes in the debate over marijuana legalization, but the study’s authors say policymakers and scholars should also consider the fiscal effects of drug liberalization, “Legalization can reduce government spending, which saves resources for other uses, and it generates tax revenue that transfers income from drug producers and consumers to public coffers.”
Drug legalization could generate up to $106.7 billion in annual budgetary gains for federal, state, and local governments coming primarily from two sources: decreases in drug enforcement spending and increases in tax revenue. The Cato Institute estimates that state and local governments spend $29 billion on drug prohibition annually, while the federal government spends an additional $18 billion. Meanwhile, full drug legalization would yield $19 billion in state and local tax revenue and $39 billion in federal tax revenue.
To read the full study: https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/tbb-83.pdf