Interesting piece on the legalization of marijuana. Names estimates of the tax revenue available from legal marijuana. States the case largely from the civil libertarian point of view-- adults should be allowed to do what they want if they don't hurt anyone by doing it. States the primary objections-- marijuana is a gateway drug that will lead to greater numbers of people addicted to more serious drugs. Mentions a statistic cited by the DEA that claims on its website-- that since the legalization of marijuana in Holland, the rate of heroin addiction has tripled, or even quadrupled. This may be true or it may not; for sure the DEA has an interest in persuading us that it is true. William Bennet is quoted saying he believes marijuana messes up more kids than any other drug, and that he sees no reason to make it more available to kids. He might be right about that-- marijuana is more dangerous than most users assume-- but that is not an argument for keeping it illegal. The savings to be realized simply by discontinuing our efforts at enforcement would pay for whatever costs become associated with an increase in the drug's use or an increase in the use of more dangerous drugs.
More on the subject at these two links-- first is an op ed by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who argues that people are no longer outraged by the idea of marijuana use, the second a study of a neighborhood in Oakland-- Oaksterdam-- where marijuana is basically legal. The third is a NY Times article reporting on the same story.