Chapter Title: Comments on "Rethinking America’s Illegal Drug Policy"


provides the most thorough analysis to date on the question of government expenditures on drug prohibition, estimating that legalization could save US taxpayers over $40 billion. Costs are uninformative unless benchmarked to the costs of alternative interventions (cost effectiveness), the benefi ts they provide (benefi t- cost analysis), or our willingess to pay (contingent valu-ation). Savings on prohibition enforcement might mean little if offset by increased social costs involving public safety, public health, or lost produc-tivity. Such costs are extremely difficult to forecast and involve numerous uncertain parameters—the responsiveness of demand to a change in law, and the responsiveness of these harms to a change in demand. Nevertheless, Miron’s report was released with great fanfare, in tandem with an open letter endorsed by over 500 professional economists, urging the country “to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition ” (Hardy 2005; MPP 2005). That a call for open debate is eve

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