A group of over 300 economists, many of which are extremely high profile voices, including nobel laureates Milton Friedman from Stanford, George A. Akerlof from University of California, Berkeley, and Vernon L. Smith from George Mason University, have signed an open petition to the President, Congress, Governors and Legislators aimed at bringing attention to a paper published by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron that suggests that the federal government would save $7.7 billion annually if marijuana were legalized. Additionally, the same report suggests that legalization would save more than $6 billion more per year if it was taxed the same way alcohol and tobacco are.
The petition asks activists on both sides of the issue to open an "open and honest debate" regarding the issue of marijuana prohibition in order to "force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition."
"The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy. Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm," it continues.
While this may come as a shock to much of the mainstream, the revenue benefits of marijuana have been quite apparent to states that have been dealing with the issue, most notably California and Colorado. In California, Democratic State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano proposed legislation that would legalize marijuana with the argument that it would produce billions of dollars of much needed tax revenue in the state. Colorado has a similar measure on the ballots for the coming November 2012 general election. Colorado further claims that its medical marijuana industry has provided a huge boost for their previously stalled economy.