Costs of legalizing marijuana

California may become the first state to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, as the NY Times reported on Oct. 27, in anticipation of a hearing by the California State Assembly the next day. In an article yesterday on the hearing held before the Committee on Public Safety, The Sacramento Bee stated, "Testimony revealed layers of complexity."

Among the testfiers was Rosalie Liccardo Pacula of the RAND Corporation. She discussed four areas affecting either potential revenue or cost:
  1. Legalizing marijuana would drop its price considerably, more than the 50% in current revenue estimates.
  2. The proposal to tax marijuana at $50/ounce is not realistic; to deter the black market requires the state to let the price of marijuana fall to an amount close to production that will mean a smaller tax revenue.
  3. Current estimates of price are not useful for predicting a change in consumption because demand elasticities apply to small changes in price and there would be a large price drop with legalization.
  4. "The Board of Equalization’s estimate of $1.4 billion potential revenue for the state is based on a series of assumptions that are in some instances subject to tremendous uncertainty and in other cases not validated."

Legalizing Marijuana: Issues to Consider Before Reforming California State Law (pdf, 8pp/170kB)

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Blog on blog

State of the Blogosphere, Technorati begins releasing its annual status report with, Who Are The Bloggers? A quick scan reveals the majority of bloggers to be highly educated, affluent U.S. males, aged 18-44. (Most likely the readers, too?)

For the full color pie charts, visit the three webpage report, Day 1: Who Are The Bloggers? SOTB 2009.

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Good dog, bad dog

According to recent Pew surveys, Americans positively view news media as political watchdogs, discouraging leaders "from doing things that should not be done." However, just 29% of Americans think news reporting to be accurate, down from an 55% in 1985.

Partisan politics also play a role in supporting press criticism of political leaders.
In the most recent survey, 65% of Republicans said press criticism of political leaders does more good than harm; in four surveys during the Bush administration, far fewer Republicans expressed this view (51% in 2001; 43% in 2003; 44% each in 2005 and 2007).

Democrats, by contrast, have become less supportive of a watchdog role for the press than they were during the Bush administration. In September, most Democrats (55%) saw more benefit than harm from press criticism of political leaders, but that was down substantially from 71% in 2007.
What most Americans agree on is the major loss were the news media to completely disappear, including regional and national television, newspapers and websites.

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