May 7th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Legalizing marijuana answer to government's $ problems?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's time to debate legalizing marijuana in California - so says Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. As the state faces mounting deficits, the governor says he's open to talking about different ways to create revenue. Although Schwarzenegger doesn't think the state should rush to judgment and start taxing and legalizing pot right now, he says he's interested in looking at other countries that have legalized it to see what effect it's had.

A cannabis plant is pictured. Cannabis is known as marijuana in its herbal form.

Schwarzenegger's comments come as support grows nationwide for legalizing pot. In California, a recent poll found for the first time a majority of voters back legalization.

One California lawmaker says regulating and taxing marijuana would bring the state as much as $1.3 billion a year in extra revenue. Proponents say it's about more than just money; it's about the failure of the war on drugs and implementing "a more enlightened policy."

One advocate tells The San Francisco Chronicle that Schwarzenegger's comments represent "a tectonic shift" in attitudes on the issue, saying: "The public is going to drag the politicians into doing what is right."

But not everyone is so sure this would be the right move. Some lawmakers say the potential revenue would hardly make a dent in California's deficit - which could soon reach $20 billion. They say this is just a sign of the governor's "growing desperation" over the budget.

Here’s my question to you: Is legalizing marijuana the answer to the government's money problems?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Ray from Nashville, Tennessee writes:
It won't solve the problem of the deficit, but it would help a little with revenues. More importantly, our court system would rid itself of a huge burden created by petty pot violations. Think of the money that would be saved by not having to bust, try and jail these people. It's a win-win situation.

M. writes:
There are too many people making too much money from this drug being illegal: cops, prisons, courts, and all the people they employ take home good paychecks from weed.

Tim from Texas writes:
Would you start smoking pot if it were legalized, Jack? How about Wolf? Does the fact that it is not legal prevent anyone from smoking it? The point here is that whether it's legal or not has no effect on whether people use it or not. So why not make it legal and tax it? For a billion dollars you could pay 20,000 teachers 50K a year.

Kathy from Wilcox, Alabama writes:
Legalizing pot won't eliminate government deficits. But it's a viable idea to discuss. If anything, legalizing pot would pacify large segments of the population into not worrying so much about deficits. I've never encountered aggression or anger in a pot smoker. But I've seen a lot of bruises and broken lives caused by alcoholics.

Sam from Orlando writes:
Absolutely! Marijuana should be legalized and taxed, that's more money. Satisfying munchies means more money. Taxing rolling paper means more money. Less violent crimes equals less need for enforcement resources, which means more money. We can have a more friendly society, crooks and coppers hugging and holding hands while sharing some fine government ganja.... it would be beautiful.

Guy from Atlanta writes:
Dude, I was going to post something but I forgot what it was. Have a nice day!

Filed under: Government • Law Enforcement
soundoff (322 Responses)
  1. George Washington

    New Hampshire, When looking at the monetary value of legalizing marijuana too often politicians only cite the potential tax revenue that could be generated without looking at the other costs it would save. They fail to account for the budgets and assest that local, state, and federal police forces have allocated to the fighting of marijiuana which is in the millions. Also they fail to consider the jobs that could be created by establishing a regulated marijiuna production industry based on the principles that guide alcohol production in this country. I would like for someone do to a realistic study on these numbers and truly tell us what this legalization would save the taxpayers every year.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  2. CurtJ

    It will be a major undertaking as we know the politicians who receive money from the pharmaceutical and alcohol industries will do their utmost to stifle the legalization of marijuana. Though they cite it as a gateway drug, a learned population will realize that due to conflict of interest and collusion, these same politicians are willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands of American Citizens who die each year from alcohol fueled wrecks, domestic violence and alcoholism. They are willing to sacrifice the thousands of American Citizens who die due to alcohol, for the thousands of dollars they receive as campaign contributions, which in all probability, averages out to a dollar a life lost.
    After 15 1/2 years working as a medical provider, I've never seen a patient in the emergency room for marijuana. If someone was under the influence, it was alcohol or cocaine. Call me a liar!

    May 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  3. Robert

    I think it would be just like legalizing alchohol in the proabition period. Lawmakers didnt want to do it but people were going to do it anyway, they just took more risks to get the outcome that they wanted. Weed is no worse than alchohol for you, its actually better, but my only concern is that in this country our culture is dominated by a "me first" mindset where we get whatever we want at any costs. Most other countries don't have that to nearly the extent that the United States does, they are a collectivist society, so something that is good for society is also good for you, they actually care about their country and their government. The reason for such high DUI rates and fatalities is just that, our mindset is too narrow minded to think beyond ourselves. Other countries are taught from a very young age about drinking, drugs, sex, ect because their culutre is not dominated by religion and the individualist mindset. We oftentimes have to figure these things on our own besides the "don't drink till your 21, don't have sex till your married, don't do drugs" which does nothing but further peak our children's curiosity and we deny knowing anything about their actions until they get in trouble with the parents, school, or police, maybe never at all but major problems stem from these issues. We should either legalize weed, or ban everything all together because no matter what we do "legally", people will continue to look out for themselves first and the consequences be damned. "I want it so I need it". I don't think we can handle it, but does it really matter?

    May 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  4. Rodney from Little Rock, Arkansas

    Maybe, but it will be more interesting to see what the "establishment haters" end up doing when their arch nemesis becomes their supplier.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  5. John from Alaska

    Legalizing marijuana isn't the entire "answer" to our fiscal woes but it is a huge step in the right direction. In addition to bringing in billions in tax revenues, an even larger amount would be saved in law enforcement, court and incarceration costs. Not long ago our local police department reported that 24% of sexual assaults were not investigated due to lack of funding. In tight fiscal times how can we justify persecution of "potheads" while our prisons have no room for violent criminals. More important than the economics however is the acknowledgment that in a so called "free" country where smoking, drinking and gambling are legal, the government has no business telling us how to live our lives.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  6. Dana Beal

    It's going to be impossible to legalize pot unless you pass the equivalent of de-Baathification for narcs and other supporters of prohibition.

    Otherwise the narcs will continue to make busts based on federal law. If you legalize it federally, they'll cite the UN Single Convention, claim treaties trump all laws–and seize power in a police state coup d'etat setting aside the elected government that changes the law.

    You have to get rid of the narcs for legalization to work. Maybe designate them as "unlawful combatants."

    May 7, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  7. Jeremy

    Hi there. It does seem that legalizing it would stimulate the economy, but that's not the biggest issue. We live in what is supposed to be a democracy. That means that if the majority of the population wants something to legalized then it should be, regardless of what anyone in the government thinks about it. It is no longer a moral issue. If the poeple of the United States want this drug legalized then it should be. End of discussion. That is the only constitutional way to resolve the issue. Polititions have been using pot as leverage for years and year so that they can fund their own private ambitions. Let's put a stop to it and give tbhe American people what they want.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  8. Ralph Nelson

    I'd prefer they legalized prostitution. Who knows, since George Washington was one of the nations biggest growers of the stuff. For all we know the founding fathers were on pot when they wrote the Constitution. Most people in California are on something. Let's tax plastic bottles. Ralph, Yakima, Wa.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  9. Adam

    We can deal a heavy blow to drug cartels, help curve state and national debts, free up some jail space, redirect money and manpower to actually violent crimes, and create tons of new jobs for people to grow and sell legally. So, how many more benefits do you need? Alcohol has done more damage to families in this country in the form of DUIs, alcoholism, and domestic violence, yet we still continue to purchase, consume, and even give it to our youth willingly.

    Keep this debate alive Jack!

    May 7, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  10. garry pollack

    Hurray! Decriminalizing pot for medical purposes will eventually lead to its complete legalization. Put that in ure pipe & smoke it!

    May 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  11. David

    Hey Jack,

    Lets be honest, marijuana is no worse than alcohol, and in some respects is actually less harmful. But more to the point why is marijuana illegal? Yes it can help cut budget deficits and raise revenue, but even if it couldn't there is no good excuse for it to be illegal other that's how it's been for nearly a century now. In most cases the history behind its prohibition ais dark and sad, including racial bias in the southwest and religious activism elsewhere. How about we use common sense for once and start separating marijuana from truly dangerous drugs like opiates. Marijuana is only a gateway drug because it makes a joke of existing drug laws and convinces those who try it that the law must be wrong elsewhere on drug policy....

    May 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  12. david otteson

    I don't think it will end money problems, It will help in making new channels of revenue to support programs that are under funded. The war on drugs is a lost cause and is doing more damage than good, Putting people in prison for marijuana use is not good for everyone. The Prisons are over crowded, The new inmate looses there job, stops paying taxes, ends up on some gov program and becomes a burdon to the state. Their familys are also affected , Children not having both parents support, Child services roles etc... By thoughful legalization of pot ( not unlike Alcohol ) will be a boon to our economy bring jobs, all kinds of jobs. Stopping the black market will ease police with the related crime of drug dealers. I dont pretend that it will all be rosey and good, but the current war on drugs is going nowhere.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  13. ronnie

    No, but it would sure ease the pain.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  14. Jim S

    Legalizing a drug like Marijuana would reduce the crime associated with it greatly. There would be no more street shootings over the drug because the price would drop like a lead baloon. Having said that, I believe much more resources should be devoted to the hard drug problem including tighter border control, getting rid of corrupted border guards, deporting illegals and making hefty fines on employers who knowingly use them including stiff jail sentences for corrupt gun dealers. Finally, this country needs to devote more effort to educatiing young people of the evils of drugs as well as open centers for drug treatment for those who seek it at an affordable cost or free of charge. We should follow some of the models of European countries and approach this thing with a less "holier than thou" attitude. Our jails are now full of drug addicts instead of murders and rapists.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  15. Mike, Houston

    So the answer to the government's money problem is to become a drug-dealer? Perhaps the answer to the problems with prostitution is for the government to become a Federal pimp...

    May 7, 2009 at 4:54 pm |

    Of course it would solve our money problems, it would also solve problems with the Mexican drug dealers as well and may end all the violence going on there right now. It seems ludricous to me that we spend all this money combating drugs for how long now??? and where did it get us? There are still drugs and we keep locking up users and crowding our jails when we ought to be locking up violent criminals and CEO'S who have ripped our country off. Smoking pot has been around for over 150 years and will be around the next 150 years, it's time to move forward and become smarter about our drug policies.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  17. Joseph

    So we legalize marijuana, and the state gets extra money from the taxes. Meanwhile, more people have medical problems due to their marijuana use, which leads to higher health care costs for our state. Sounds like a wash to me.

    -Joseph, Los Angeles

    May 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  18. Tim in Canada

    My brother Jack, a green earth is good for everyone. Imagine everyone you see is just mello and smiling, there'll be no war and nobody pisses nobody off, what a wonderful world. Now here comes the munches...

    May 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  19. Jeremy: Brooklyn, NY

    While it may not generate the full $20 billion, legalising marijuana would make a huge dent in the deficit. The $1.3 billion in revenue is substantial already, but even more money would be saved then generated. Legalizing marijuana would save huge amounts in law enforcement, because if marijuana becomes legal, then police would not have track down sellers and abusers, and gangs wouldn't be able to form around its sale. The government could also track who used marijuana, and connect them with rehab before they become poor and sick, or in budget terms burdens on the welfare and healthcare systems.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  20. Shannon Harrop

    Legalization is a great answer, not only would this bring in increased revenue for the state, but also would reduce costs involved with prosecuting, and housing non-violent offenders involved in marijuana offenses. California's prisons are overcrowded, and current drug laws force prisons to release violent offenders in exchange for mandatory minimum laws. This would be a great idea to not only be fiscally responsible, but also regulate an industry that will be pursued whether it's legal or not, regulation just forces the industry to become safer, and legitimate, therefore threatening any black market incentives currently in place, and threatening the viability of any drug cartels specifically in Mexico.

    Shannon Harrop
    Indio, CA

    May 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  21. paofpa

    He is a true Republican: "Anything to reduce the amount of government".

    May 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  22. oldcavpilot

    Legalization would cut our prison population, prosecutions, and associated costs in half. It would take the wind out of the Mexican cartels' sails, and since there is no hangover, reduce drunk driving auto accidents (pot smokers drive 5 mph, not 95mph). The taxes and fees would help, and a whole new 'growth' industry would emerge; most especially for hemp. It's about time the DuPont induced hemp ban from the 30's was lifted.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  23. Mike

    Yes, absolutely we should legalize marijuana and tax the heck out of it. I am from Kentucky and our number one, untaxed, cash crop is pot. Our state is facing a 1.2 billion dollar deficit and the legislature keeps taxing tobacco to raise money. Well, add another "sin" crop to the list and tax it! Wouldn't it be great if all that money could be tapped and put to use keeping other taxes low?

    May 7, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  24. Mike

    When compared to legal drugs, how bad is marijuana really? How many deaths can we attribute to alcohol and cigarettes? Both are harmful for the body and society; both are sanctioned and fully legal.

    May 7, 2009 at 4:59 pm |
  25. Billy

    Yes, legalize marijuana! It will relieve some of the prison and jail populations that we tax payers have to pay for to give them 3 meals a day, a roof over their head, and a baby sitter that thinks they are in charge. It's a PLANT, unlike the manufactured drugs that plague our nation, either prescribed, over the counter, or illegal. Bring the revenue, from the marijuana just like alcohol and tobacco, which by the way, are much worse than marijuana.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  26. Omar Gonzalez


    FDR was challenged by a bad economy and lifted the prohibition as one of many ways to stimulate the economy back then.

    I think our country, not just California, is ready to look into lifting our generation's "prohibition", think outside the box, and bring some of the billions generated by marijuana in the underground economy of drugs into the light.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  27. Deanna from Fayetteville NC

    sure, why not, we tax everything else

    May 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  28. dave

    Yep! Like alcohol the Gov. makes big money off of it and just think about all those people in jail for it how much would we save by not having them there.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  29. Dave in Saint Louis!

    Nope! But I bet it can help a cranky old guy relax Jack!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  30. pat in michigan

    yes and i promise when it's legal I'll sit in my living room eatin pork rinds and watchin you jack.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  31. Peter, Waterloo Canada

    I've been saying this since I took my first toke 40 years ago. Hello!!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  32. Jeff Crocket

    Legalize all drugs and control them to death!! Just like Alcohol!

    And while we are at it, legalize prostitution too!!

    Republican Jeff C in New Britain, ct

    May 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  33. Peter, KC

    Jack, no this is not the solution. There is already a tax free market set in place, this would be like trying to tax people for water, they can get it tax free by just walking down the street.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  34. Marty in Kansas City

    Jack, the biggest thing legalization would do is it would free up other resources. No more paids on pot houses, no longer putting pot smokers in jail, stop some of the drug trafficking from Mexico. Freeing up that money along with taxing it just might make a big impact at both the state and federal level.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  35. Brian

    Legalization in the short term will have little effect but the reallocation of funds to other drug prevention would reduce national crime. The effect on reduced court loads,jail populations, and police man hours at local levels would add money over years for more prevention and treatment . The cut to the DEA budget alone should save millions and then they can focus on the more dangerous drugs like meth,coke,and heroin.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  36. Giancarlos

    While I may not think that legalizing Marijuana will be THE answer to my state's budget problems, I firmly believe it is great step in the right direction. The Marijuana industry makes well over $12 BILLION a year; it is CA's cash crop. For the government to be missing out on this income is simply foolish. Marijuana should be treated exactly the same as alcohol and tabacco: discourage it's use, severely punish those who hurt people while under its influence, provide rehab for its addicts, but used for relaxation and socialization. I hope my state legalizes it soon.

    -Giancarlos from CA

    May 7, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  37. Mike – Denver, CO

    A politician legitimately researching alternatives, seeking the input of his constituents, and having rational debates? Just when you thought you had everything in politics.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  38. frank

    Having lived in California, yeah, only in California. Make sure you don't drive or use machinery or any other restriction. Toke away. Don't forget to tax the brownies also.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  39. Mit Jones

    A true conservative should let the states decide and NOT the federal government. But every time a state wants to do something the modern day conservatives don't like they want the federal government to step in and stop the states. It should be up the the states to decide what is best for them. The DEA is a national police force that should be outlawed.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  40. Stuart Green

    Hardly make a dent? When you're talking about over a billion dollars a year, that's 5% of their debt, correct? Also count in the lowered costs of law enforcement, so it would stop any sort of growth on the deficit. Also, people need paraphanalia for their marijuana and that could be taxed as well. Those who say this is just the governer growing desperateare clearly ignorant in the truest sense of the word.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  41. Jackie in Dallas

    No, Jack, it won't balance the budget or give us budget boosts, but it will help in other ways.

    One, the war on drugs is a failure...and expensive, inefficient, and ineffective failure that costs billions a year across the country. Just relieving our law enforcement groups of going after the small time pot smokers will make a huge difference in budgets!

    Two, even if legalized, there will be a whole bureauracy for monitoring and controlling production, quality control, sales, and taxation. What the taxes bring in will probably be eaten up - or at least most of it - by the paperwork!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  42. Chris E.

    Chesapeake VA:

    Jack, I don't believe pot is answer to this countries money problems. However, it can help. The prohibition of Marijuana has cost us Trillions of dollars locking up non violent offenders. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a violent pot head? Think of all the snack foods that would stimulate the economy. To aid our economy, our sick, and build up the industrial uses of hemp sounds like a win win to me.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  43. James in IL.

    Jack it doesent fix the overspending the Gov. does, but it would free up the police to fight real crime. It would save alot of tax payers money and if taxed it would help make up for a some of the money problems we have. It would stop the smuggling of pot over our borders. It would take alot of money out of criminals hands.
    I agree with what Barney Franks said on Lou Dobbs yesterday. Pot is not the problem. It's laws that infringe on your freedoms to do what you want as long as it does not hurt any body else, only your self. Our forming fathers are turning over in their graves over this abuse of power the Gov. has undertaking with laws that want to hold your hand and tell you what to do and when to do it.....

    May 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  44. el-tee from the lower right hand corner of ND

    Jack - There are no panaceas for governments to raise revenues. Ever since Alexander Hamilton levied a fee on distilled spirits the law of unintentional circumstances causes any number of objectionable consequences. As for the aforementioned issue the Whiskey Rebellion and formation of the “moon shiners” were the results. As for taxing legalized marijuana, the revenues collected would only marginally reduce the government’s budget needs, much like state operated lotteries. The possibility exists with legalization; the saved costs of no criminal prosecutions may help local governments more than the state in meeting their budgets. What other unintended results that could occur can only be mused about. – el-tee

    May 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  45. Diana Aldana

    I am a nice "Mormon mom" from a small town in Utah. I say YES to legalizing marijuana! Why is it illegal to alter your brain with one chemical – pot – yet completely legal to fry your brain with alcohol? Pot does far less damage, and I have yet to hear about some guy who gets stoned on pot, and beats up his wife and kids. You hear it all the time about some guy that gets drunk and beats them up. My oldest son is in federal prison in OR because he got involved in meth, and when we visit I see guys there that are doing 30 years, or more for pot. Non-violent offenders are getting enormous sentences because of "The War On Drugs". Please get the movie "The Great American Drug War", it will sicken you. It is all about the alcohol & tobacco & money. The US would save enormous amounts of money if they didn't lock up pot smokers, but the alcohol industry and the prison industry would lose money. The prison industry is a huge "for profit" business and doesn't want to lose any opportunity to make more money & build more prisons. My husband is also a national health and wellness speaker – Steve Aldana – and he can tell you the health care industry could sure use the tax money from pot to educate our children to help them to not abuse pot, alcohol, or any other unhealthy behaviors. Diana Aldana Mapleton, Utah

    May 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  46. pam Eugene OR

    It is really hard to believe this is coming from a conservative Republican. He must be really desperate. I think making marijuana legal would solve a lot of California problems. They can make a lot of money on the tax and it should help a ton with stopping the violence from the gangs in CA. It would also help with the illegal drug dealers and violence at the border.
    Toke on Arnie!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  47. Bill Amado,Arizona

    Jack, 25,000 people die from drinking and driving every year. 100,000 deaths are related to alcohol
    30% of all deaths from accidents caused by fire and flames are attributed to alcohol.
    30% of all accidental drownings are attributed to alcohol.
    30% of all suicides are attributed to alcohol.
    40% of all deaths due to accidental falls are attributed to alcohol.
    45% of all deaths in automobile accidents are attributed to alcohol.
    60% of all homicides are attributed to alcohol
    Do we want to add a second cause of death. Perhaps these statistics will double with the legalization of another mind numbing substance.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  48. Ron - Baltimore, Maryland

    Legalizing marijuana and taxing it would certainly assist government's with their budget issues. Let's remember however; that the problem with most states budget's are due to the lack of responsible leadership. While many argue that there is not enough evidence to support the claim that marijuana ruins a persons brain and or creates other medical related issue's, the fact is that we already kill thousands each year related to alcohol. How many more will have to die due to smoking marijuana and driving. Let's get real here, first marijuana then what.....

    May 7, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  49. Kyle Brown

    I do not believe that any growing plant that does not go through a chemical process to become a "drug" should be illegal. Also being a non-addictive drug, it can be quit easily. I believe that alchohol is worse for your body and also your physical being. But people who think it shold be illegal are the people who think that it is going to be easily accesible to minors. People who are underage can find drugs easier than they can find alcohol or tobacco. Some people also just do not like the fact that people smoke marijuana and that it is wrong to feel good every once in a while.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  50. Travis

    yes it is. it will create new businesses, create new medical treatments, it will create new tax revenue from sales and will cut the federal budget and state budgets down from putting people who are involved with weed in jail. this will also cut down on weapons sent to Mexico and the use of hard drugs. 90% of the people that do cocaine only do it because it can not be detected in a standard drug test after 3 days or it was at the same place they got the weed. if you look at the facts weed is far more healthy that both tobacco and alcohol. if schools would give better drugs and alcohol education we wouldnt have such a problem whenever teens get their hands on them.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  51. Jake, Reno NV

    The answer to the governments money problems is not legalizing Marijuana, maybe the government should consider spending within its means.

    Just maybe.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  52. Cody from SLC Utah

    The revenue from taxation of marijuana is not the only benefit of legalizing it. Using hemp for paper and other materials will cut costs in many areas and can help with pollution as less trees would be destroyed and hemp regrows much faster. It is also an effective source of ethanol. It would take profits away from drug cartels and make the trade of marijuana much safer which a price can't be placed on. We would spend less money hunting, arresting, prosecuting, housing, and feeding non-violent criminals for marijuana.

    On top of all that it would create jobs and is relatively harmless in comparison to cigarrettes, alchohol, cocaine, ecstasy, meth, etc and is for the most part socially acceptable.

    It's the best green solution I've heard so far. I'd like to hear what the alternative revenue producing ideas are.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  53. ramish

    governor is dreaming to do what he used to do. if we legalize pots there will be more car accidents, more fights, and etc..

    May 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  54. Brandon

    Of course not. A hike in taxes does not fix a mismanagement problem.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  55. concerned

    Yes. Its worth the money. And besides people will be to high to commit a crime.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  56. Kurt in Ca


    Yes, I do believe it could offer additional income. I'm sick and tired of being taxxed on every one of my bad habits, as well as on my income. It's about time those who do dope pay their fair share as well. The problem isn't going away, and it's costing us money to ignore that fact. Legalizing it saves us money in so many area's and adds money in taxes.

    I am not condoning the use of marijuana, just as I wouldn't condone smoking cigarettes. But it's a 'WEED" that grows in the ground and needs no chemical alteration to consume. What's the issue? Substances that must be chemically altered are an entirely different subject, you are talking apples to oranges.

    Legalize it, tax it, put marijuana dealers out of business, create marijuana distribution and agriculture business into operation and tax THEM as well.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  57. Kenny in Austin

    No. It is not THE answer, but it is AN answer to the growing debt problems that we are facing herre in America. The biggest casualty in our war on drugs has been our inner cities and poorer communities. Jailing tens of thousands of Americans for selling and/or possessing this harmless plant has only served to undermine our society. Today we find ourselves in need of every dime we can get our hands on. I for one don't see any issue with the legalization of pot. It can't be any worse than alchohol or tobacco and will serve to relieve our communities of the increasing number of felons returning from prison with little hope of finding gainful employment due to a marijuana conviction. We have far too many folks behind bars and its HIGH time we do something to fix both issues.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  58. Allen L Wenger

    The $1.3 billion it would bring in from taxes is only a small part of the benefit. Think of how much time and money is spent by our police departments, our judicial systems, and our prison systems fighting this war on drugs. You hear people talk about crime going up if you legalize pot, but that is not what happened when they legalized alcohol. They say that most of the people who use hard drugs started by smoking a little pot. Did you know that all alcoholics started by drinking milk?

    Mountain Home ID

    May 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  59. Ken in NC

    No Jack. If marijuana was legalized then everybody and their mama would start growing the stuff causing the sale value on the street to crash prompting marijuana farmers to apply to the FEDS for subsidies not to plant the crop just like the corn farmers do now. The Supreme Court would rule that it is a legal crop and therefore subject to the same rules and regulations as any other crop. Another drain on our budget Jack. You get my drift? What have you been smoking?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  60. Larry

    It may not be the answer, but it is a step in the right direction. The money saved in the justice system alone would be tremendous.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  61. N. C. Munson

    I vaguely recall that President Richard Nixon, with great fanfare, established a commission to investigate the drug problem of the day (which is also the drug problem of today). When this blue-ribbon commission reported among its recommendations that certain drugs (marijuana, for example) should be legalized, Nixon, in a huff, dismissed the commission. These learned people studied the problem, came to a conclusion then bumped into a wall of ideology.

    As with Prohibition, we take a long time to come to reality, delayed on the way by unrealistic perceptions of what does or does not constitute morality. Putting aside that we cannot legislate morality, common sense should have told us even as long ago as Nixon's day, that we were fighting a battle we had no chance of winning.

    Instead of facing facts, we invent them. For example, we claim that a generation of kids will be lost if we legalize drugs, but we completely ignore that this is happening now because profit-driven drug dealers are seducing children as early as elementary school in order to have hooked customers for the future (General Motors could learn from how well these people look to the long term.) If we eliminate the potential for profit from such despicable acts, we eliminate the despicable act. We will then have only the foolish becoming hooked, and they are inclined to do so anyway. We also eliminate the high cost of policing this despicable act. And we eliminate the greater part of the burglaries, muggings, heists, etc., committed by those desperately trying to get the means of their next fix.

    Finally, we eliminate all the violence on the border. Recognizing, as certainly we should, the human misery we encourage by inaction, the reasonableness in us should react, not with more of the same, but with policies that actually work. There is an inherent contradiction in claiming it is moral to ignore human misery in the name of morality.

    NOEL MUNSON, Ponce Inlet, Fl

    May 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  62. Yannick from MONTREAL

    The tail should not wag the dog, the dog should wag the tail. What the people want , the government must get or be replaced by others willing to try.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  63. Chris

    I don't think this will "solve" the money problem in California, but I do think it will help in many ways. Legalization will allow government control over a huge part of the black market and will free up room in jails for "true" criminals.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  64. john j. grimes Watertown, Ma.

    Oh if it was only that simple I would say do it immediately, but making pot legal won't make a dent. Our foray into the Middle East is our problem today and if we can't stop drug production in Afghanistan or South America then making marijuana legal would simply be gross hypocrisy.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  65. Paul

    Not sure but we will all FEEL a lot Better:-)

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  66. Gavin

    Yes Jack. It is about time that we logically look at the full benefits of this commodity and save ourselves countless amounts of money on this so called war on drugs. Alcohol is much more dangerous than marijuana, yet it is legal and celebrated.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  67. Chris in Atlanta

    This is an idea whose time has come. You can tax the hell out of it, you don't have to spend the money to fight a losing "war" against it and the cops could then be out doing something useful. It would tick off those Mexican drug cartels and put them right out of business. Farmers could then grow it, its a weed it will grow anywhere, and then we could stop paying them not to grow anything. You can make ethanol and biodiesel out of it, which would drop the price of corn and oil there by putting more money in people's pockets which they will spend on things that are taxed. So let's review, spend millions to fighting it, which hasn't worked so well, or make trillions off of it. I say lets take the money.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  68. Nanda

    How can legalization be any worse for the public? The people that want to smoke weed, do it anyway. At least with legalization, far less harmless people will end up in jail, where they learn to be more corrupt and violent than before they went in.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  69. Mike

    Only if they smoke it.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  70. Alan Partridge

    It's part of the answer. The victimless act of smoking a joint involves many economic transactions, and its not fair that people who don't do drugs must contribute any less to the government than those that do.

    Toronto, Canada

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  71. Terry

    Yeah, what our first President said.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  72. Micah from California

    As somebody who lives in Californai, I hope they do legalize it. Not only will it be put in the State's hands, but it will also cripple the gangs and drug cartels who rely on selling to keep up their influence, not to mention it would provide much needed money for our struggling economy. On another note, if such substances like alcohol and tobacco are legal, (both of which have higher death rates) than why can't marijuana. All I can say is, it wouldn't hurt to try.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  73. Angel

    No Jack...it is not the answer. There is no ONE answer. But it would be a substantial amount of income that would be introduced to the economy. LEGALIZE IT ALREADY!!!!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  74. Lloyd L. Smith

    Is Arnold INSANE? If we can't fight the drug dealers the government wants to become the drug dealers? If everyone is Stoned, who will be left to work? Maybe they don't care? Just setting American up to be taken over by communists!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  75. john, CO

    It might not solve the government's money problems, but it certainly will drive up profits in the 'munchies' sector of the economy.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  76. M. Allard

    Not only will marijuana solve many ot the govt's money problems, it will also solve much of our countries attitude problem.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  77. mitchell, arkansas

    well ,if it would save approximately $44 billion /year, and bring in app. $33 billion in revenue, that is a swing of $77 billion in our annual budget. It kinda makes that $17 billion in cuts to the budget, look like chump- change.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  78. dawjaw

    Heck No Jack, I am a recovering addict myself there is nothing good will come out of this. It will just allow our young kids to get on first base, and then all of sudden they will slide home.

    Martinsburg, WV

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  79. Corbin

    Absolutley, tens of millions of people use pot, a harmless "drug". If government can legalize it and make a small amount of money from it then it will undoubtedly reduce deficits. It should be legalized for commercial use but the big paper business doesn't want to see that

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  80. Bernard Clark

    It's a no-brainer; of course marijuana should be legalized! Alcohol is legal and so is cigarette's! The question is, why not legalize it?

    Bernard Clark Jr.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  81. Josh

    I think it's about time the government tried to eliminate the blackmarket in this country. What better way? Lou, tell me, do you really know how much the average American spends on pot a month?? From what I've seen, it's usually close to half of all of there money... Our economy makes roughly 7 or 8 trillion a year, so just think what that could do to the deficite. Wake Up People

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  82. MattZ

    Is legalizing marijuana the answer to the government’s money problems?

    No, but it's certainly a step in the right direction to solving the government's excess Doritos problem!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  83. Ralf

    com'on Jack....let it be the one thing we don't have to import............

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  84. Marni

    It certainly would help as alot of the stuff is grown on Fed. land...but the point really is, marijuana is NOT the horrible drug alcohol is...few have killed while high and few have gotten in deadly accidents...it's time to put this weed in the same class as booze...or lesser....

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  85. Aaron, Southern California

    Despite what republicans say, this natural weed is not a gateway drug, it is safe and natural and right now is worth more than gold. Why the heck wouldn't it be a good idea to tax it?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  86. Ed Bassett Sr

    Come on Jack! They are making criminals out of users of REGULAR tobacco for cripes sake!! Now it will be okay to use whacky tobaccy if it makes money for the states???

    Ed Watertown CT

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  87. Peter M

    Nope. It will create more problems. In fact, a combination of the right to bear arms and the right to smoke pot will lead to deadly consequences. You don't believe me? Try it!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  88. Nate A

    The problem with the economy will not be fixed by legalized weed.
    The problem that would be fixed would be the civil rights of Americans and the constitution would be upheld allowing free choice without fear of jail or fines.

    Thanks Jack

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  89. Dicky Neely

    Hi Jack,
    Legalizing marijuana may not be the answer for all our financial woes but it could sure help.
    Legal pot and medicinal pot could provide substantial tax monies and boost the economy. It could also reduce the money flow to Mexico and other palces where marijuana is grown if US cultivation becomes legal..
    It would also drastically reduce the prison populations and free up law enforcement for more important duties.
    It is a win win.
    Dicky Neely
    Corpus Christi, Tx.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  90. Nick

    Look, the lawmakers that are saying it wont make a dent in revenue necessary to uplift California's economy; are they considering the amount of money saved based on the reduction of tax dollars spent on jailing distributors? Those distributors will then be able to open a legitimate business distributing not only marijuana but also means of which to use the substance which would in turn bring in more revenue. Legalizing Marijuana brings in so many possibilities it would be ignorant to think that it could not help the economy while at the same time lowering the crime rate all together in the state. No need for related violence, and no incentive to continue distributing illegally. It's a great idea!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  91. Gino Cappuccetti

    Making Marijuana legal will not be the answer to our financial situation, but it would help. And seriously, Marijuana gets a bad name when in all reality is less harmful than already legal alcohal.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  92. Paul

    I don't know how they came up with the 1.3 Billion dollar figure but to me it seems a bit on the low side. Tourism will spike, bringing in revenue from all angles (people buying food, clothing, and anything that sparkles.) And I wouldn't worry about the war on drugs because pot isn't a drug. Overall, this is a good move to take.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  93. Gary

    Why do we understand our old policy toward Cuba isn't working but we fail to see the war on drugs isn't working? Legalize at least Pot and tax it. It is less harmful than alcohol.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  94. Sheldon B. of CO

    I've never known a new industry to be a bad thing for any economy. Sure legalization won't be a silver bullet, but every little bit helps.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  95. Art

    Not only will the government reap a voluntary tax boon, Jack, but think of all the money saved by law enforcement, which will be able to concentrate on solving real crime, and by the prison system not having to house offenders. Drug dependency is a health problem not a criminal issue. It's about time that people came to their senses about the so-called "war on drugs".

    Art in West Virginia

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  96. Andrew from Centreville Va

    Jack there really is no one answer to the governments money issues. However, legalizing marijuana would help. We spend billions prosecuting, and incarcerating people who have don't nothing to anyone. Not only that we would be taking those billions out of the hands of evil drug lords south of the boarder.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  97. Lyn Lindstrom, Rocklin, CA

    Years ago I was against pot, I thought liquor and cigarettes were plenty........well.........I can see the use of pot is not going away and all I can see is Prohibition revised. What the heck, if it's here we should make it pay with taxes, I'm surely tired of paying more taxes for less. It seems the regulations for liquor and cigarettes works......

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  98. Renee

    No, it is not the answer to the budget problems. But it is no different than legal alcohol. I say legalize! People who smoke pot get it one way or the other. Might as well tax itl

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  99. KEVO

    Legalization is not the ANSWER....! But It sure would help!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  100. Mike D

    No, but it will help. The answer to the economic problem lies one step closer, legalize industrial hemp. Not only is it easy to grow even in bad soil, it holds river banks, it could save our forests and provide an excellent bio-fuel, paper, clothing, etc ....

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  101. Seth

    Not only would it create tax revenue, it would also reduce the ridiculous amount of money we spend punishing people for smoking marijuana. Narcotics agents burn a ton of gas chasing around teenage kids who smoke weed to try to get them to turn on the next guy. Oh yeah, and about this Mexican border violence...

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  102. Jenna Wade

    Is legalizing marijuana the answer to the government’s money problems?

    The Netherlands legalized it and there is no additional drug issues than they already had, so I don't see why we couldn't legalize it as well.

    Plus in CA, medical marijuana is legal but illegal Federally, which results in legal conflicts. It's a big mess.

    If it were up to me, I would legalize it and tax it like tobacco. And I would pull those that were convicted of marijuana charges out of jails and prison. They have no real reason to be there.

    Roseville CA

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  103. Darris Pope

    It has long been time for the legalization or at least decriminalization of marijuana. Studies have shown pot is just as if not less harmful than alcohol and despite it's illegality 42% of Americans over 18 have tried it. Legalizing would bring revenue to the state and put a stop to the billions we spend fighting the "War on Drugs" and the innocent adults we lock up for marijuana (72% for simple possession alone). Anyone who's tried the "drug" has found that maybe all the Just Say No and Hugs Not Drugs campaigns may have been somewhat skewed against marijuana and over exaggerate the drug.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  104. Rachel

    Legalizing marijuana is the ONLY way to get our country, and more specifically California, out of this serious debt. I have been saying this for years and I'm glad it is finally being taken seriously. Even though pot is illegal, think about how many people in the country not only smoke it on a regular basis, but spend a huge amount of money on it. Pot is a commodity. It would save our country. And to be honest, if pot was legal, the only thing that would change would be the amount of arrests that occur for possession of marijuana.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  105. Jimmy, Reno, NV

    It's time for this to happen Jack. The real question here is – if Cali. does legalize it, will the Feds still arrest people for using/growing it because it would still be an illegal drug under Feeral law, i.e., medical marijuana in states where it's legal. If the Feds are still going to arrest people and ignore State's Rights then there's no point in legalizing it. Arnold needs to get a promise from Obama and the Justice Dept. that tey will stay out of their "business".

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  106. carole

    Actually, I say legalize all drugs, take the money out of it. Let those who want to use drugs, get them under a doctors supervision. Provide healthcare for drug addicts. If drugs are legal, then maybe the money aspect would end, robberies would go down and maybe people would stop killing each other over drug money. Sure would put a lot of people out of business

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  107. Shawn Christopher

    Yes, Legalize it!!!! This "Drug War" has created millions and millions of casualties, otherwise law-abiding Americans arrested for marijuana. In the period 1965-2006 there were 18,469,642 arrests for marijuana offenses, 89%-90% of them for the possession of a small quantity of pot.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  108. Kris

    Jack I have only one thing to say, "legalize, legalize, legalize"

    Lets keep putting people in jail and wasting tax payer money for nothing...

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  109. Ryan

    The American people should have the choice to smoke marijuana or not, it should not be the government telling us what we can and can't do. The majority of Americans want to legalize it, and our country desperately needs the economic boost. Cops can focus on more important issues, there in saving millions, and doctors have even found that it's safer then cigarettes and alcohol. Why are we even arguing about this?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  110. Paul

    Revenue from pot couldn't hurt. War on drugs, seems to only make gangsters rich.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |

    I think pot should be available in limited quantities and taxed heavily. This will go a long way in bringing revenue to California and other states that would adopt this policy.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  112. Zubair

    I think that legalizing Marijuana may not only help California, but also potentially the country. Although not a user, I find more people engage in it than those who do not. Legalize it, tax it, reduce existing drug dealing problems involving Marijuana and let it help our debt.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  113. David

    Yes! Remember that what we have in this country is called a "war on some drugs". Meanwhile drugs such as alcohol and recreational sex drugs are advertised on television. Marijuana is the largerst cash crop in the U.S. Why shouldnt the government cash in on it also.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  114. Robert Gerald

    Legalizing Marijuana would be the best method to fight the Mexican Drug cartels. It definitely would save lives not to mention the billions of dollars in tax revenues.

    The Dutch decrimilized Marijuana to take it out of the channel of hard drugs. The Dutch crime rate did not increase because of Marijuana.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  115. Annie, Atlanta

    It may not be the only answer, but it's one of them. People from all walks of life smoke pot, and will continue to do so, legal or not. I say tax it.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  116. wally420

    Legalizing marijuana is the answer to every problem.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  117. Charlie D

    Jack, of course marijuana won't solve the government's money problems. But why are you asking that, except that most people will answer in the negative and appear against legalization. Aren't you curious about how your viewers feel about legalization on its own merits? My feeling is that you don't want to know what your audience truly thinks about the legalization issue.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  118. Jasmine

    No.it isn't it simply isn't the answer. Hopefully Arnold Schwarzenegger has had D.A.R.E class when he was a little boy and he would understand.I don't think he should risk people's lives for the deficit . He's hurting California more than he is saving it.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  119. Karl from SF, CA

    It’s not the complete answer, but it’s a good start. Once the bug-a-boo of marijuana is debunked, it is no different then alcohol. Legalize it and tax it. We know how effective Prohibition was for booze and pot has had the same historical failure. Fortunately the opposition is getting old and dying off as is obvious by the newer acceptance polls. Fewer criminals to arrest prosecute and house in prisons and more money in the bank for schools and the like, to boot. How can you beat that? Besides, pot smokers don’t get into bar fights.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  120. Sharon of Ohio

    All I have to say is the U.S. is going to Hell in a hand basket!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  121. Chris from Georgia

    Not only can the legalization of marijuana generate a great deal of revenue, It will also reduce government spending by eliminating the millions of prisoners held on marijuana related charges.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  122. C. Butler

    Heck no, it's just about people wanting to get their own way. It's illegal because it does impair people's actions and reactions, it's like driving drunk.

    C. Butler
    Phoenix, AZ

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  123. Marguerite Birkenhead

    Marijuana should definately be legalized and taxed. After all, it is less harmful than alcohol and should be treated as such. Our jails let out too many bad, violent criminals and jail too many good people who use pot. We should right the wrong. Groups like the DPA and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition are wonderful sights whom are pro marijuana.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  124. Brian Jones

    Marijuana does not lead to death, unless it is declared illegal and hunted down by men with guns; policemen claiming supraconstitutional rights to control a man or woman's state of mind.
    Legalization alone will not fix the deficit but perhaps cutting out the immoral support for the occupation of Palestine will.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  125. Nick NY


    The arguments have been so drawn out on this topic. Every time CNN has a blog about the legalization of marijuana, it is flooded with support and those who oppose it never have a real justification. Although it's not even really a debate anymore, I applaud you for asking the question again and again. Keep their feet to the fire!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  126. Ben In Illinois

    I don't know if it's the solution or not Jack, but it's a smart move by the governor. If the people aren't happy bout government troubles mellow em out with pot. GENIUS! Now if we could only solve the munchies....

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  127. Duane in Gainesville, FL

    The issue over legalizing marijuana extends far beyond the obvious tax incentive. My county, Alachua, home of the University of Florida and known as a marijuana center (Gainesville Green) is currently dealing with budget shortfalls and a jail crowded with drug offenders. This could be the shot in the arm that California and other states need in this economic crisis. My question is...will the tobacco industry suddenly start growing marijuana, and continue to sicken smokers with chemical additives?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  128. Michael B

    If they legalize and tax it they win two times by not spending and wasting tax dollars enforcing a foolish law and guarding offenders and gaining tax dollars for more usefull purposes

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  129. Michelle

    They can impose a high tax for a little extra revenue. It would put a tremendous relief on prison overcrowding as well, which would not only save the state money, but also eliminate developing hardened criminals.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  130. benjamin v

    It's not THE answer to the government's money problems, but it sure is A solution. Keep in mind, not only is it money from sales revenue, it is also money saved in the expensive process that is anti-pot laws. It is about time we own up to ourselves & allow the government to earn some extra money off the good 'ol American vice.

    I see it more as a moral issue though, we need to legalize it because the drug war ruins peoples lives everyday rather than the drugs themselves. But whatever gets the job done I guess!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  131. Linda

    The marijuana industry is as big as PepsiCo. The income would be considerable.
    I don't know if legalizing and taxing marijuana would solve our financial problems, but it would be nice to not be a criminal anymore for smoking it.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  132. Innocent Ononiwu

    To the contrary! It is the beginning of the government's headache. Marijuana is a gateway drug. Legalizing marijuana is like opening the gate for a thousand bulls into your farm and hoping that your crops will yield a great harvest.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  133. Eric Krueger--Clovis, Calif.

    The "answer" no. But an awfully good step. Grass already is reportedly California's biggest cash crop: Legalization, regulation and taxation could easily yield untold billions in revenue for the state, which at present is fiscally dysfunctional.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  134. Deborah in Blue Springs, MO

    Jack, you NEVER read my comments on the air. Why is that?!

    Most estimates of marijuana's income potential are based on medical and recreational pot, saying nothing of industrial cannabis, or hemp. With more than 10,000 planet-friendly uses, we could reap the benefits of the whole cannabis plant across the issue's spectrum while reducing our children's access to its non-fatal flower.
    Money, jobs, and compassion for the suffering.
    That's the way the pot brownie crumbles...

    May 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  135. Anna

    You can not win war on drugs if you only punish dealers and leave user alone so they can go and find another dealer so we should legalize pot.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  136. Allen

    It is hard to say! Taxes. Keeping a lot of people out of prison That shouldn't be there. Stop a lot of the drug war> It can't hurt Allen Minnesota

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  137. Jim Boland


    No, it will not solve all the money problems, but yes, it is a step in that direction. Besides the tax revenue, the state will save a large sum in law enforcement and in prison costs. I only wish Tennessee would take that step.

    Tennessee? I must be high on something!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  138. Matt from Pisgah, IN

    Yes Jack, legalization would improve economy. The recession has made the economy low. Legalization could make it high.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  139. Marissa

    I don't know if it's the answer but it would certainly help. There's another issue that ought to be considered and that's the governments ability to regulate marijuana if it were legalized. People get up in arms about how it's the start of a slippery slope but being able to regulate marjuana's potency and use would go a long way to making it safer for people who want to smoke. Birmingham, Alabama

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  140. Roland(St George,UT)

    I'd go along with it as long as it was well-regulated by the FDA, e.g.: setting allowable standards on strength and purity and requiring people who want to purchase it to apply for a permit (like a special ID card) to discourage fraudulent purchasing and distribution to minors. I'd also need to see some increased education and stricter penalty for DUI offenses. I personally don't care what anyone wants to do with their own body as long as it doesn't affect me, but anyone driving under the influence of anything (alcohol, drugs, even cellphones) is a hazard to others. (Roland/St George, UT)

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  141. Kevin

    "The" economic answer for California? No.

    A part of the answer? Maybe so.

    And bringing marijuana use out of the shadows may be the healthiest thing that could happen for the irresponsible pot smoker.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  142. Michael Roepke - Dallas

    Nothing will ever solve California's money problems, but legalizing marijuana could solve a huge number of social issues. I only wish we could have an honest debate between pro-marijuana and pro-sugar people as to the health problems, addiction problems and economic and social costs of these drugs.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  143. Josh C

    Revenue is revenue. We need to take pressure off our overloaded prisons as well as stop spending money on failed policy. Pot will never go away, it's a plant and people will always be able to use and grow it. We should stop throwing people in jail and waste resources on doing so over non-violent carriers of a naturally occurring substance.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  144. hunter

    Well its not the answer but would definitely help, and is certainly part of the answer. to this guy say hardly a dent only 5%. Its a good start. it also takes pressure off the prison system which lowers debt.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  145. Mark Bennett

    Should marijuana be legalized? Absolutely! Even though I do not smoke marijuana, I believe the legalization of marijuana would not only bring in additional revenue, but would provide some relief on the failing drug war waged in our country.

    For those who oppose the legalization of marijuana, go back and support one of the most dangerous legal drugs in our society by ordering another martini!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  146. Greg Knott

    Its not just about the revenue that the states can generate, It would empty the jails and save hundreds of millions of dollars in a failed enforcement policy.
    Pot is available to anyone who wants it all over the US. Look at the Millions going down to Mexico.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  147. Alex

    While I personally do not smoke pot, I support legalization. The war on drugs is a complete failure. Not only is the government missing out on tax revenues from legalized marijuana (and giving it to the cartels), but we're throwing good people in prison too. Legalize and control it, just as we do tobacco and alcohol.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  148. Robert Bass

    It may not be the answer but it is a damn good start. Not just the revenue from the tax on "Pot" but the money we will save on the raids on the pot clubs going away!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  149. Jon

    Apparently the government had no problem letting millions of pounds of cocaine into the country in order to fuel a war going on in south america in the 90's. I don't see how marijuana is any better or worse than alcohol or cigarettes... drugs that have been allowed and taxed in America forever. It's simply that the government has yet to lie down with manufacturers of marijuana like it has with big-tobacco and the medical companies who make pills that millions of Americans take every day while still functioning at work and with their familes. Let's continue to pretend that if it wasn't financially functional to the government that they would allow prozac, zoloft and Marlboro to control their citizins.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  150. Calvin from Cali

    Call it the Tok Tax, sounds good time me – Money is Green, Pot is Green looks like a "natural" fit. Although I would feel better if California led the nation in college grads versus pot heads....but hey that's just me.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  151. dave in montana

    This is the stupidest thing I have heard in 50 years..... it is like taxing peas and carrots..... as long as I can grow them in my window, the government aint gonna get a dime. This is a plant, not chemical .. it is ridiculous to pass a law to legalize and tax a weed that can grow anywhere. Keep it illegal and tax the violators. THAT will raise more $$ than anything else.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  152. Deb

    Not only would taxing marijuana help the budget not jailing, prosecuting and harassing users would help curb runaway prison and law enforcement efforts. Growing your own "calmative" would save millions in prescription drug useage. Let's use prisons for the real criminals. The Republican party should be for this measure because it indeed would get government and big business out of our personal lives!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  153. Bob Cleveland

    Jack, It's about time someone brought this idea forward, in legalizing pot you have more legal targets to attack growers and distributors almost like proabition id to Al Capone. In legalizing pot the tax revenue alone could generate millions of dollars and give Cheech and Chong a new job as spoke persons. NICE DREAMS

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  154. Casey

    Marijuana should be legal for many reasons other than money. One major things we want to get across is that the war on drugs is not a failure but that marijuana should be off that list of illegal drugs. things such as "meth, coke, heroine" should be stopped they are terrible things, marijuana should not be compared to these hard drugs.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  155. Fred from Michigan

    Legalizing marijuana is a great idea and I'm glad the Gov. Schwarzenegger is going to push forward with the idea. It isn't the tax money thats as important to me, the best thing would be the secondary effects such as the reduction in drug trafficking and drug related violence, I know that a good portion of the drug violence stems from harsher drugs such as cocaine and heroin, but any reduction would be welcome.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  156. Monique

    Every little bit helps. While we're at it why don't we legalize prostitution and have state run brothels?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  157. Shravan Gupa

    Legalization of marijuana would not only increase revenue for the state but it would accomplish a number of other tasks.
    1. The power of "Drug Lords" would be diminished to near nothing
    2. The drug cartel between here and Mexico would end
    3. the country would save millions if not billions in law enforcement costs
    it seems almost stupid to not at least discuss the possibility of legalization

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  158. Logan - Los Angeles

    The fiscal implications of legalizing marijuana go far beyond the remedial issue of bolstered tax revenues... decriminalizing pot would strike at the heart of the failed War on Drugs and all the billions of tax dollars that have gone into busing casual, consenting and non-commercial smokers. Time to do the right thing.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  159. Jon O. from Garden Grove

    "Make the most of the hemp seed, sow it everywhere."

    -Thomas Jefferson

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  160. Angela

    Legalizing marijuana, in my opinion, would be THE absolute answer to not only the government’s money problems, but a damn good reverse psychology approach to drug smuggling issues along the Mexican border because more folks than you realize are smoking pot!!!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  161. Andy Robillard

    Absolutely! The time has come for the hypocrisy surrounding this very helpful and naturally grown plant to be dispelled and in doing so, crush organized crime here and outside our borders and free countless peaceful "criminals" who are costing the country billions and rotting in jail.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  162. Sheila, California

    The real money saver will be in releasing from jail the people who are arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana. We are bleeding tax dollars to run a large prison system in California, and should not be housing small-time, pot-using criminals. Also, think of the violence decrease that would occur because growing and selling would not be done in the underground black market. I doubt a bunch of non-users would run out and light up, but the police actions and prison cells could be reserved for real criminals, which would save a lot of money – that could put into education instead!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  163. Steve Henry

    Is legalizing marijuana the answer to the government’s money problems?

    No. But they won't have to face reality!

    Hutchinson, KS.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  164. William Bross

    Jack it's not THE answer but it certainly would be a major component in a broader answer. To the substantial revenues from taxation would be added additional massive savings in Law enforcement and court costs, costs of imprisonment etc. European countries that have instituted this enlightened policy approach have seen no increase in use.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  165. Vincent OBrien

    It may not be the final answer to California's money problems, but its sure as hell is move in the right direction. Imagine how much money would be saved if they just stopped arresting and prosecuting people for using it. Let it be produced and sold legally and taxed like liquor and cigarettes.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  166. matthew todd

    As a Californian I believe it the issue of legalizing marijuana is more the just an economic issue, it's a civil rights issue. The government has no right to tell anyone what he or she can do with there bodies. If I want to smoke pot or have a drink, thats my choice not the government.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  167. Mark M

    Come on, Jack...of COURSE it's time. Pot has been up in the top five bumper crops for years, in California. So, now all of the stem cell patience who can't afford the service out of the country, bacause it's illegal here, can go to California to get pot to at least ease their pain. And besides, let 'em have it.....maybe they'll forget about their problems after gettin stoned all the time. Keeping pot illegal keeps ATF ans DEA jobs. You legalize it.......government employees are out of a job....on DROVES!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  168. Anthony...New Jersey

    Considering that marijuana has always been less lethal than alcohol and less addictive than nicotine, we all must come to the conclusion that a new perspective is required. This is a weed, unadulterated and free of additives. It is the most unharmful recreational natural drug out there.
    But realizing that you can grow this natural product on your windowsill or in the most sophisticated grow rooms, the government will have a hard time harnessing this product for consumer use and taxation.
    I don't know anyone yet who can grow tobacco and ferment alcohol in their homes.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  169. Flyingwolf, Manchester NH

    Yes! Do it now! Legalizing marijuana will solve more than just money problems, it'll solve crime and drug problems and put people back to work growing pot and its non-drug cousin hemp (criminalized at the same time to keep law enforcement from having to differentiate between the two). Hemp makes a much better fuel than corn and can be turned into everything from rope to clothes and is completely biodegradable.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  170. susanne

    Last year more then 500,000 people in the us died from smoking cigarettes at what cost to families and the nation. No one died smoking pot in fact a study was done that showed the ingredients in pot actually prevented cancer. The war against pot is fueled by the DEA, they do not want their budgets cut and the fun of busting up smokers. The country can control the sale as the sale of alcohol is controlled; but pot is not addictive and does not destroy your liver as alcohol does. nAlcohol and cigarettes are much more dangerous but have lobbiest..

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  171. AnnaLynn Zinn de Vine, Ph.D. Candidate, M.S., C.H.T.

    Medical marijuana saved my life, and I am a medicinal user daily to maintain emotional balance following a lifetime of psychological abuse. This medicine has worked where all the anti-depressants and mood elevators have not. Emotional mental illness is a thing of the past with this Godsend. Plus, it makes me want to ask the question: "What is everybody afraid of . . . we're gong to break out in peace?"

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  172. Jim, CA

    Bill Amado, AZ

    Compairing alcohol facts has nothing to do w/ Marijuana.

    As for legalization its definately worth looking into. Several successful countries have done it already and its about time the US take a peek.

    The amount of money made and saved could be a huge impact to our nation, let alone the decrease in illegal drug prevention spending. Could also help the current Mexico cartel issues we're having if one of their cash crops was made legal.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  173. Chisom Ofodire

    Jack, it is sad that the government wants to compromise the health of its citizen in order to raise some revenue. Very soon, We will be talking about legalizing Crack cocaine..When people get caught with Pot, they get fined for it anyways, so what more are we gaining by taxing Pot?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  174. elflip

    war on drug need to end

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  175. colin from ny

    I'm not sure your questions is the valid one to be asking in regards to this subject. it should be "is legalizing marijuana a positive or a negative overall?" Financially though, this would ease taxation for support of the prison population, add a taxation revenue for the state and the federal government which would be otherwise untapped, and needlessly end the stigma associated with industrial hemp production, possibly creating many many jobs. The only reason it was illegal to begin with is paper companies and DOW chemicals wanting this plant to be so, and demonizing it in the 1930's. Prohibition doest work. Alcohol prohibition taught us this.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  176. Michael Fils-aime

    lets be realistic jack millions of young and old americans smoke pot. instead of putting everyone in jail, it almost seems like commen sense to tax it like alcohol. tell the government there covers been blown jack. the public has found out long ago that pot is not as bad as they say it is

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  177. Trenity

    To be fair. Legalization is not the answer to all of California's problems, but the billions of dollars saved and made could give much help to California's failing State. It's the right thing to do Nationally.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  178. Bill Johnson

    Yes-you could tax it at $500 a pound and it would be cheaper than it costs today. Great source of tax revenue; it can be cultivated year round in many places and would help the American farmer greatly. Maybe the stress levels and high cost of resulting health care would be eased along with legalization, too! Why not try it- you don't have to inhale!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  179. Tony St. Louis, MO

    No, but neither is beer and liquor and that's legal. Unlike some other hardcore drugs like crack or heroine, any case you make against marijuana can be made against alchoholic beverages and the laws regulating both could easily be the same. This isn't about saving the country's economy, this is about not all being part of the same hypocrisy.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  180. humboldtman

    this is just a sign that gov. arnold needs to go. he has no other way in saving our economy but legalizing pot then we have big problems. it is just going to be another mess that will blow up in our face just like the medical marijuana. how did we ever go from medical needs to , oh lets legalize. this state is stupid. it will still be a underground biz because that is where the money is. these people are crazy. they need to step back and attack this problem full force instead of thinking that legalizing is ok. its not that weeds bad, but us stupid lazy fat americans dont need something that will make us fatter dumber and even more lazy.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  181. John Vigna


    Legalizing pot will not solve all of our problems here in California. But that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile idea. When FDR took office, one of the first things he and the Democrats did was to end prohibition, which not only stimulated the economy but also removed an infuriating intrusion by the government into the private lives of its citizens. This is not a black and white issue–marijuana is not the same as Cocaine, Heroin or Meth. The Governor is right: it's time for California to have an adult debate about something that the majority of its citizens support legalizing. Who knows, maybe the cure for the bloodthirsty partisanship that is destroying California is for Democrats and Republicans to get together and pass around the peace pipe filled with a plant that is inextricably linked to California culture anyway.

    John Vigna,
    Sacramento, CA

    May 7, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  182. Alexander Hayward, California

    The US should seriously consider leagalizing marajuana and not brush it off as some joke as Obama did. Considering that is no more worse than a bottle of alchahol. It could raise revenue for my home state of California, bringing an end to the of slashing much needed programs such as education, law enforcement, and the fire department.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  183. Jered from Atlanta

    Jack, The oppositions argument echo sounds from prohibition. If people are educated in the risks and dangers of smoking marijuana, just like they do with alcohol and cigarettes, then people will be able to make an educated desicion for themselves on wether or not they want to use marijuanna. Furthermore, it has a possibility to reduce petty crime and free up spaces in jail that could be used for those who break more serious laws.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  184. Paulette Reed

    Lord NO NO NO what do you want a lot of pot head s driving on the road , Governor is out of his mind.
    South Dakota

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  185. Gail

    When you count the money from jobs and production from legalizing cannabis paired with the drop in law enforcement cost and prison population costs coupled with the cost associated with forced treatment for cannabis consumption you'd be a fool not to see the monetary benefit. Add on the 25,000 other uses of cannabis including food, fuel, fiber and medicine and to me it's a no brainer. It is way past time to relegalize the cannabis plant that NEVER should have been made illegal to begin with.
    And last but not least. They keep yammering that today's cannabis is stronger than in years past. To this I say SO WHAT. IT STILL DOESN'T KILL YOU!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  186. jd

    legalize it, regulate it and tax it...

    free up the enormous debt of drug offenders.

    the war on drugs has not worked yet and we need a new approach before we go broke warehousing drug offenders.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  187. Jim


    I suppose it's inevitable, but I do have reservations. I don't relish sharing the road with pot-heads any more than with drunk drivers. Costs will be incurred by cities and states to pay for the irresponsible behavior of users, from accidents to health problems to child welfare. Maybe the increased cash flow from a new sin-tax, and the damage to the illicit drug trade will, will make it worth while on the balance sheet, but it sure won't be free.

    Reno, Nevada

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  188. CoCo

    Honestly Jack, just the fact that this question is being asked on CNN has potheads all over America lighting a joint to celebrate...I'm just a bit disappointed Arnold was the one to get the discussion going.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  189. Renee M.

    I do believe legalizing marijuana will help our deficit. Imagine if it is taxed on both the federal and state level, how much that would put back in our federal reserve. If given the same provisions on marijuana as we give on alcohol I shouldn't see any problems, I think people will respect that provision as well as they do alcohol. Remember when alcohol was illegal? Due to society not obeying laws on it, it got decriminalized. We should do the same with marijuana. Some people say that this drug leads to the abuse of worse drugs...I'm sorry, I don't hear people screaming to legalize heroin or methamphetamines! I don't think they ever will.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  190. Marge in Ct.

    Legalize all of it. The war on drugs did not deter those who are intent on mushing their brains. Let them at it, but tax the stuff to the hilt and use the tax money for the common good. Also penalize drug use to the max if users put innocent people in harm's way by driving, using firearms, etc. under the influence. It's time we grew up about drugs and inact laws that protect the innocent from their consequences and punish users only if they infringe on the rights of others.
    Marge in Ct.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  191. Phillip Walker

    Legalizing marijuana in California, What’s nest? Why don’t we just legalize all drugs! Would that solve all our problems, or mere help us cope with them. Get Real...

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  192. David M Branham

    I think its sad that the question of legalizing marijuana is stemming from the government needing money. This should be a personal liberty and one that is weighed in such a manner. Not one that us used to give the government another resource to tax. Its just the governments way of exploiting its citizens. I think marijuana should be legalized, but not so that our politicians can profit from it. Personal freedom is the important issue here.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  193. Larry

    It would not only create tax revenues but would save billions wasted on law enforcement trying to eradicate a god given gift.

    Use of cannibis is 1/2 in the Netherlands of what it is here. Wonder why? It is not legal there, but it is taxed and controled.

    The lies have to stop!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  194. oksana

    It won't solve it, but it will help to reduce state spending on law enforcement policies. After all, the government cannot control evrything. And if people choose to smoke marijuana they will do regardless of the rules.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  195. Jason Rick

    Its actually better than alcohol...how many people you know have die from smoking pot...being drunk is wack...marijuana should be legal worldwide...Canada has been smoking weed legally for a while...and just look at there murder rate statistics...hay hay hay...smoke weed everyday...lol just a funny jack..but for real...it should be legal!!!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  196. Steve, Zeeland MI

    As far as I can tell, smoking pot is no more harmful then cigarettes, and no more dehibilitating then alcohol. If some scientific studies can back that up, I so no reason why not. I bet legalizing marijuana it will solve more problems then it will create.

    Less crime due to drugs, less harmless people in our prisons. Though now you will have to be worried about people driving high, as well as driving drunk.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  197. jerry

    No, not at all. Just about every company in the US tests for drugs now. If it were to become legal, more people would be apt to try it, (or do it with more regularity) which would lead to more failed drug tests and more people unemployed (and not paying taxes!)

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  198. Brian

    Jack, anyone that is knowledgeable about this issue knows it is way past due. Its ridiculous that our legal system stays bogged down with marijuana arrests when there are so many serious crimes that go un prosecuted. Tobacco is more harmful, alcohol is much more dangerous, and the whole reason marijuana was put on the list by Nixon in the first place was to go after Vietnam war protesters. Its time we did the right thing and legalize marijuana so we can work on the real problems facing our country.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  199. Liz Petrocelli, Bristol, ME

    The money saved trying to contain growth, sale and usage, plus that resulting from its taxation would certainly indicate the need to legalize pot. As to those who use? I'd rather encounter a stoned driver on the road on a dark, stormy night that a drunk driver.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  200. rory

    ALL drugs should be legalized – just think of the savings if cocaine, meth and heroin were not in the hands of criminals to sell – the costs would go down and the fighting stopped!
    Some cities have erected safe houses for non-rehabitable alchoholics – I am sure this could be done for drug uses as well!
    I dont' think that taxing drugs is a good answer to budget problems, however.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  201. Dennis

    Jack it can't hurt,look at it this way .They make tax money ,save DEA dollars wasted on pot ,and can use all the resources for the real poison the coke and smack.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  202. Gary Chandler in Canada

    One thing people have to realise is criminals will move to other forms crime to support themselves.
    Kidnappings for ransom will dramatically increase, for example.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  203. Guy Sullivan

    While the legalization of marijuana will not solve the budget problem on its own, there is no doubt that it will indeed make a large contribution. As for the 'crackdown on drugs' in the United States, marijuana would decrease the need for hard law enforcement and also result in the lowered need for the illegal drug market. Other countries whom have legalized marijuana have seen these results, as people use the substance responsibly, overall benefitting the country.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  204. Hugh

    Yes it will help. If you look at the amount of money and time wasted in marijuana related arrests and drug enforcement plus the amount of money it generates for organized crime... Remember what prohibition did for the Mafia? Not to mention that it has been scientifically proven to be much less harmful than cigarettes and alcohol and is almost was widely used as both of them.

    Also think of how much money could be made if it was taxed monetized and controlled like cigarettes and tobacco and the answer is an emphatic yes. It is time to move forward and reintroduce what used to be one of America's main cash crops. Remember George Washington grew hemp...

    May 7, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  205. Bruce

    I'm not a drug user, but I do drink beer. Why not legalize pot and flood the market to try and eliminate the dealers?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  206. David Sisters, OR

    It’s not the answer to all the govs money problems, but it is the answer for a lot of other problems. The billions spent on law enforcement, the end of the social stigma from having been arrested for it, and Yes it would bring in some revenue and it would create some jobs. Conservatives arguments against the legalization are just so much propaganda being repeated over and over for the last 100 years, since Harry J. Ansliger started them.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  207. gary meads

    doctors can sell a pill of chemicals the gov. should be able to sell a naturally grown plant (its a seed bearing plant read the first part of the book.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  208. John

    Jack, Legalizing marijuana isn't the solution to any government's budget problem though taxing the sale of marijuana may raise some revenue. Marijuana should be legalized because it is not addictive and our law enforcement people are wasting time and resources on it. Legalization would also take a big bite out of revenue for illegal drug dealers

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  209. TexasCop

    Being a recently retired police officer in Texas, and not a pot smoker. I think we should make marijuana legal nationwide. People get drunk and fight, kill people and do many violent crimes. I have never in my career ever had to arrest a suspect for a violent offense after smoking marijuana. Let us get the tax from it and stop wasting law enforcements time doing paperwork over marijuana, cops all in general think it is a waste of time anyway.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  210. Kevin

    Making pot legal may not close the budget gap in itself. But once it's legal, exporting it could.

    Why should the drug cartels get all those billions?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  211. James Saint John

    Isn't California the same state that argued for stiffer emission control standards than the rest of the country? One joint makes more of a stink than a hundred old wrecks in need of a tune-up.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  212. Luke

    Sure. Let's legalize all drugs! A stoned populous doesn't care and doesn't have the energy to object to anything the government does. Let's keep those borders porous. Let's not provide adequate treatment for substance abuse. We could call it "empowerment" , (that means your on your own). Isn't that the plan anyway?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  213. Charlie

    Legalizing marijuanna is the same as overturning the Volstadt Act. The longer we delay, the bigger will be the bank accounts of criminals, the larger will be the budgets for law enforcement, and so on. Prohibition created the Mafia's hold on our country; marijuanna is doing the same for others, including the MOB. Get real and let it go. Charlie

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  214. Stan Robertson

    Jack, did we learn nothing from prohibition? Marijuana is not nearly as bad as alcholhol comsumption. Look at the billions squandered on the war on drugs. Look at how much money would be saved by legalizing it, selling it wherever and look at how much money would be made by taxing such sales. It seems like a no-brainer.

    I'll bet the alcholhol lobby spends millions a year trying to keep it out of

    Edmond, Oklahoma

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  215. Wally

    No, it is NOT the answer to California's (or any other state's) budget problems, but it IS a start. Not only can you raise money from taxes on legalized pot, you can save a lot of money spent arresting, prosecuting, and jailing people unlucky enough to be caught doing what a large number of Americans do every month. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars in the "War on Drugs" and the problem is arguably worse than ever. It's time to talk about how to save money and lives by changing our approach to drug abuse prevention and care. Let's start by legalizing marijuana. After all, there has never been a documented case of anyone dying from a marijuana overdose. You can't say that about aspirin!


    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  216. Chris

    Have we seen anything negative from the legalization of medical Marijuana? No, but we're still spending a lot of tax payer money on club raids and prosecuting club owners in a state that simply can't afford it. It just doesn't make sense to continue spending money raiding, jailing and prosecuting people in the face of the evidence that the war on drugs has failed. Why continue throwing more money at fighting something that is clearly here to stay. It's time to open the dialogue.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  217. Kelby, In Houston Texas

    It is not the answer, but it is one answer among many. The legalization of marijuana will not solv e the governments money problem, but it will most certainly help alleviate it

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  218. Tom Andrews

    It would solve a number of problems, including alcohal abuse, Malcome Forbes said it was the best thing we could do. a six pack of beer is much more destructive than smoking all day.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  219. Gary Miller

    Legit pot would make this country a more rational country. Millions of Americans smoke pot, making them criminals alienates them from much of the social mainstream of out society.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  220. Ed Wise

    I think pot should be legalized even though I am not a pot smoker. Its no more harmful then alcohol, would ease the prison population and put alot of drug dealers out of business. yes, tax it like tobacco products.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  221. Johnny V

    I think we should ask ourselves why marijuana is illegal in the first place in order to understand the history of ignorance and racism behind the issue. Legalization of the cash crop will do more than help the economy, it can show progress in American values rationale.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  222. Gary Wilcox

    My concern about legalizing pot is that it opens the door for the tobacco industry to get involved and push it. And with their million dollar advertising budgets and lack of morality . . .

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  223. iris (Mt Vernon MO)

    Yes it would help. Not just the income but the disappearance of the costs associated with imprisoning huge numbers of people for "crimes" of addiction or recreational use.That cost to the justice system of every state is staggering-the courts are clogged as are prisons with people who should not be thereSome years ago Oregon legalized perosnal use of pot and all the howls of "more crime, escalating use " came to nothing.I have no personal interest and would not try it if sold at Walmart but most of the people I know-college degreed lawyers Drs a couple of Prosecuting attorneys and mechanics and housewives have tried and used it. Alcohol causes untold problems health and otherwise and deaths in ERs nationwide. NO NO NO deaths from pot reported in recent memory
    by health officials or institutions.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  224. George from Puerto Rico

    Legalization of marajuana not only would give a boost to the economy, but would give a jolt against crime. After prohibition the tax on liquor has greatly helped the revenue of the government. There are alot of Americans who currently smoke eventhough they do not advocate it in public. Just think of all the money the cartels are making with marajuana. Something to think about.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  225. david olshanski

    Yes, it would help the government's money problem. The tax levied would help a bit, but the real money saved comes from far fewer criminals incarcerated. Release those already serving time for marijuana use and the prisons would be almost empty! And the police could spend their time and money chasing real criminals.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  226. mike L from boca Raton Fl

    make it legal and save millions on court and incarceration cost . I have more to say but I have the Munchies. Gotta go...

    May 7, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  227. Dayo Bello

    No, it is not. But it is about time we legalize it;to decriminatize the users. Expecially for medical reasons. so, Jack, I will say Legalize it,and i will advertise it.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  228. Zach Rogers La

    Wait, so the states rather start selling marijuana to people just to make a quick dollar? I think we should not sell the drug and find another way to make money. It is crazy, the states rather sell drugs to people. If they start selling marijuana there will be more problems in the country. We don't need more problems in this country. The country should find other ways to make money then sell drugs to people. If you sell marijuana in the country the death rate each year will go up also. So the country would rather kill it's people with drugs to make money?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  229. Elias

    Jack, The War on Drugs has not had the intended effect that was hoped, and its about time they realized that marijuana at least, is not such a big deal. I honestly don't want to see more serious and heavy drugs become legalized, but there is honestly no big deal in terms of marijuana. All those statements about reduced productivity and long-term health issues cannot be so extreme as to cause...a societal collapse. If it will help the current situation in the same way the repealing of Prohibition legislation helped during the Great Depression, then why not?

    Bronx, NY

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  230. Molly

    It's a great idea indeed!
    Despite the fact is illegal people smoke pot anyway so make them pay taxes. I will add another suggestion to get out of this crisis: The government needs to legalize all the illegal immigrants in this country.
    They are like 48 millions so they will have to pay taxes and a penalty fee for breaking the law.
    Legalizing marijuana and illegal immigrants are great ideas!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  231. Julie - Elizabethtown, Kentucky

    There is no one answer for the government's money problems, Jack. But a combination of a whole lot of things, including legalizing marijuana, is a good start.

    And legalizing marijuana wouldn't just bring financial rewards to this country, it would bring many other things. Like the release of people from prison that have never hurt anyone, allowing people to make their own choice about marijuana instead of it being made for them, and allowing people to grow and use marijuana for medicinal purposes without worrying about being arrested. It's really quite silly.

    Look up what harm marijuana has caused as far as health or violence compared to alcohol. You won't find any.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  232. sonofliberty

    Legalizing Marijuana will legitimize the current illegal traffickers. By legalizing citizen cultivation for personal home use and leaving the illegal political system we can still fight the border smugglers that fill this country with all kind of ills.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  233. KUBBS

    Yes, Think about the prohibition of alcohol, thats how all gangs made their money strickly off illegal alchohol. Alcohol is more dangerous and mind altering then marijuana. If legal it would decrease crime rates by taking a large percent of gans profits off illegal marijuana, therefore less money less power less crime. The gov need to legalize it, and regulate it and o f course tax it. Millions are using everyday having to buy something there not sure wats in it now you can regulate it if legalized. God bless usa.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  234. Sam

    YES..The USA should Iegalize it to stop the pot dealers...
    And money for our states..

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  235. Mark Prudeaux

    Hey Jack,
    Can we at least legalize hemp? I mean come on, it's probably the most renewable resource we have. Just think of the money we could make with cheaper paper product, rope, clothes, possibly even fuel. I've even heard that or constitution is written on hemp paper. Or go ahead and legalize the full potency of marijuana, obviously or policy makers could use a little creativity.

    Mark from California

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  236. Kent

    All though I seem to be in a minority as I have never tried marijuana. I look at on the same subject of alcohol. I have never had friend high on weed try to hit me with an empty beer bottle before. I believe that legalizing it would help on a number of fronts. Drug trafficking would be immensely decreased. Funding to enforcing the drug could be diverted to other budget needs. Just like alcohol taxes, marijuana would be profitable.


    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  237. Helen

    Selling alcohol seems to be okay with the general public. Even though it can be addictive. But selling cannibis which grows in the earth's soil is forbidden. Like my parents, they watched to much Dragnet, where every problem that arosed was from partaking of a reefer, joint or whatever you want to call it. I don't believe that for a second. There is more addiction from over the counter and prescription medicines then from marijuana. Get a life.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  238. Mike

    Absoultly! This may not solve the states budget crisis, but at this point every little bit helps. Even if the the state made a million dollars of legalization, that is more than the state originally had. I hope that the president will take CA cue and seriouslly consider this question

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  239. Art

    Gawd – it's such a no brainer. Freeing up all the man hours from Cops, DEA, and $$ spent chasing pot heads, well th number is incalculable, but substantial. Prohibition doesn't work, we've proved that b4. Also the Taxes, jobs and all the other market influxes would be very welcome about now.
    Oh, and there's all the other uses for that plant, if farmers could grow it.. there's a reason they call it "weed". It was hard to eradicate ...

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  240. Kathy

    Please go ahead and legalize this natural plant! America has been in the dark over this since 1937. Don't just factor in the money that can be raised through taxing this plant. Factor in the fact that it can be grown (hemp) to help our job market ...(textile industry.)..medical (alternative medicine) AND it could decrease spending that the WAR ON DRUGS spends to bring in these so called "hardened criminals"

    Legalization would be great for our economy, and it would stop government from criminalizing our young folks. Prohibition doesn't work anyway. Didn't we learn that long ago?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  241. Travis

    @Ken in NC, why would people grow it if it would be much cheaper and easier to buy it from a store? they wouldnt... street prices today would be cut in half and that would be even after a higher tax than alcohol has on it. people grow it now adays because they cant guarantee that they will get it and the prices are extremely expensive because of "safety fees" sure you will have a few that grow it for themselves like they do in Alaska, but the majority will buy it. the people who are good at growing it will open up their own farm and thus they will be taxed.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  242. Nick Calvelli

    I think from the comments it's overwhelming what "we the people want!" legalize it!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  243. Josh

    I think it's a great idea for California, if it's good for the state economy, why not.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  244. Susan - Plano, TX

    Jack this is a tough one! There is no win-win solution.

    Look at the First Opium War and what British did to China by carrying shipload of opium to China to destroy the body, soul and mind of Chinese population...I think the priority should be how to education our children about drug, and get a porgram to help build a drug-free society as a start – sounds like a good deed that Michelle Obama would contribute her personal efforts.

    Plano, TX

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  245. Linda Dallas, Tx

    Absolutely, legalize it!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  246. Ken - Canada

    I think the money may help the government a bit but not as much as they think. Most people probably won't want to use government "watered down" pot anyway. It's about fairness and equality for citizens preferences. How can you support an argument that says alocohol is OK but pot isn't? People get violent and out of control with alcohol. The worst that can happen when you're high is that you might eat too much junk food.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  247. Barbara Spelbos

    I think legalizing marijuana is not going to solve the budget problem completely, but I think it will help. The state would make money by taxing it as alcohol is taxed, and all of those people would not be imprisoned because of marijuana. The State of California and the United States Government already imprisons more of it's citizens than anyone else in the world and prisons are very expensive to run. Just think, we would need fewer cops, fewer prison guards, fewer judges, etc, etc, etc.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  248. Robert E. Cole

    Jack: If possession of marijuana is no longer legal? How can you tax a "weed" or keep people from growing it in their back yard. How does this help the country by trying to tax it if the tax can be avoided by "home production"?.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  249. Tim

    hey jack , we are paying some crazy number like 45,000 each a yr to house drug dealers .So yes the truth about it being far safer than alcohol has been hidin by deneying funding to any research that proves it

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  250. Brian

    No Jack, it will have the opposite effect in the long run.

    After we raise another generation of deadbeats with no decent career prospects, because being high on pot as kids caused them to sit around on the couch with a false feeling of contentment with themselves, even while their lives and education were going nowhere, those same pot heads will only clammor for the government to increase spending on welfare, to help them compensate for their lack of effort at getting a decent carrer, and to help them buy more pot.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  251. Brent M. from Ottawa, Canada

    Tax income and enforcement savings are great points in favor of legalization, but no one seems to have brought up the personal safety benefits. Right now, the actual substance is handled by criminals, idiots and addicts. Millions of good, law-abiding citizens enjoy the recreational use of marijuana, but are forced to get their pot from very shady and completely unregulated sources. Legalize marijuana to ensure the consumer's safety, like government should, because these consumers aren't going away.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  252. Brian

    Who cares if it is NOT the answer. Cutting the hundreds of billions wasted in a war against a plant will help. The taxes are a benefit as well. Grow it locally, sell it locally and tax the hell out of it.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  253. Daniel Torelli

    Greensboro, NC- One thing I always hear is how marijuana is a gateway drug. It is not. The government makes it a gateway drug by criminalizing it and forcing marijuana smokers to buy it off the street, introducing them to a whole new world of drugs. If it was possible to buy a pack of weed cigarettes at a gas station there would be no need to buy it off the street. This would also cut down on gang activity, as their main source of income is weed. I urge the people in Washington to look at legalizing marijuana recreationaly not only to help our economic problems, but to make the streets safer and create jobs.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  254. Tony

    Jack, it's simple.
    Put it to a vote, let the American people decide. Isn't this what America supposed to be about?


    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  255. Louis, Washington State

    Will taxing marijuana solve the government's money problems? The short answer is NO.

    The longer answer is that a BILLION dollars per year is a BILLION dollars per year.

    Between my estimates and the estimates put forward by an ivy league professor (on your network, by the way) we estimate that taxes from marijuana and reduction in marijuana related legal costs could net America between 65 and 110 billion dollars per year. To put this into perspective, For 1 billion dollars, you could rehabilitate 50,000 drug addicts per year. For about a 2 billion dollars you could give $25,000 dollars to every single one of the 83,000 public schools in our nation – each year. All of this money and savings would be a breath of fresh air to our nation, and we might just get a little bit more than that if we legalize pot: It's called FREEDOM. How much is that worth?

    Do the math, Jack. Do the math.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  256. steve hektoen

    Legalization will not solve the financial problems for the Governator. However, the imprisonment of people for the harmless crime of smoking pot makes no "Cents" at all. There are some health issues involved, but Arnold is right to open a dialogue.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  257. Rod Holliday

    i'm sure it will save the government money in terms of generating revenue and cutting down on law enforcement costs. i think it would also help with health care because alot of people would prefer natural medicine to prescription drugs.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  258. Richard

    The problem with legalizing marijuana is that it may be easy to regulate the sale and tax of this product but it would be hard to determine DUI's or accidents caused on the roads or in a place of employment due too it's use. I have seen a person drive right into a convienant store because he was so high, mistaking the brake for the gas. Luckily no one was standing in front of that car when it happened. I don't mind the legalization of marijuana but until a device can be made to determine when a person was high, it may not be a good idea too legalize it now.


    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  259. Jeanie

    It may not generate all that is needed, but it would be a big help.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  260. JP

    Right... just what the nation needs in a few years: added social taxes to cover drug rehab (just ask a meth addict what “gateway” drug led to his addiction) and lung disease. You can’t even smoke cigarettes in California–and marijuana is BETTER?


    May 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  261. Louise in Alabama

    I like the idea of being "enlightened". Reminds me of Dr. Jones – Indiana's dad. There was a real "tectonic shift" after the 47 year search and then the battle of doing what was right. Bet that grail would have auctioned off for $20B. Taxes? Woah! Greed is greed. Especially when it comes to weed. Arnie should be running for Senator while he can.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  262. Cat Stone

    Yes, the sale of marijuana will help the state. People are growing it like crazy already and selling it in their own marketplace. Making it legal in the US will also kill the Mexican marijuana market thereby saving California money on law enforcement.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  263. don (in naples, florida)

    governments problem is poor budgeting and a lack of focus on priorities. you can legalize marijuana but in the end that money will be sucked up into the same wasteful vacuum. you need to starve the beast. creating revenue is okay but like with bush jr. who had a very high revenue, government needs to starve the beast, cut spending.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  264. Arthur Burrows

    Definite yes:
    We have spent billions of dollars over the years without any positive results. I have never used marijuana and don't plan to but our present policies are so desirous that we are digging a hole that it doesn't take a smart person to reason this out. We should change our dumb ideas.
    Phoenix, AZ

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  265. michael dodson

    It's about time! The amount of money the government is spending to wipe out pot patches and bust users could be far better spent on enforcing cocaine and mes – also, legalization would greatly undermine the Mexican drug cartels by removing their market and making our borders safer. – michael in san diego

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  266. Michael Roepke - Dallas

    There is a addictive, mood altering drug that leads to health problems that together is the single worst cause of death and disability in America. Should this drug be legal? It is! It's name is sugar.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  267. Joseph from California

    No Jack, legalizing marijuana is not THE answer to California's money problems, but it is A answer.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  268. Chuck

    There is never a single answer to any money problem. The answer lies in a culmination of smaller solutions. Legalizing marijuana will not save California, but it will most certainly help to relieve strain on the state's funds. Legalizing marijuana would have a greater effect if implemented on a national level. It would not only bring added income, but reduce money wasted within the DEA.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  269. ej

    Far too long now Drug companies have controlled this issue. Published reports engineered by Drug companies, quoted by PAC oriented politicians paid by those Drug companies to give bogus results on a drug that would cut into their mass marketing products that kill Americans every single day. Jails overfilled by Prosecutors singly motivated by career advancement, effectively working for Drug companies . It's one of the single biggest hypocritical issues in America. The real drug pushers, who peddle drugs with critical side effects are pushed on the Television every day. Of course marijuana should be legalized. Probably half of America's psychological problems would go away and Americans get the financial benefits.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  270. Erin Kelley

    Legalizing, taxing, and regulating Marijuana would generate much needed revenue for our cash-strapped state. It would greatly reduce illegal growing operations, and the subsequent costs of law-enforcement and environmental clean-up issues related to routing out these illegal growers. For those who legitimately use Marijuana for medical reasons, it would allow them to safely and legally obtain their medication.

    Erin-Santa Rosa, CA

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  271. Zach Louison

    No Jack, legalizing Marijuana is obviously not the answer to all our government's money problems but when the top cash crop in the state of Maine is Marijuana over Potatoes and the Majority of voters in California support some kind of legalization,it is about time we evaluate how much taxation could be generated and what laws ought to be changed.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  272. Jim

    think of all the benefits of using hemp food, fuel, fashion attire, etc. plus medicinal purpose and will help this country just relax as opposed to alcohol which fuels anger and violence.I'm all for it.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  273. Nirek Northfield Vt.

    It may not be the answer to all the problems, but it sure will help. Just think of the jobs it will create and the taxes those jobs will pay as well as the taxes on the product. Not only that but the police can concentrate on real crimes. There needs to be a breath test or something like that for driving under the influence . Treat it like booze and you will put many drug dealers out of business.
    Some jobs it will create;
    Factories to make the cigs.
    Inspectors there too
    shops to sell it
    Tax men

    Some benefits ;
    Safety of the product
    People who use it will be paying taxes on it a, not pusher
    pusher out of business

    Probably missed lots of both
    Nirek, Northfield Vt.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  274. Teresa Martin, Nevada, Missouri

    Would it be possible for us to actually try legalized pot? Could a state enact a limited trial period? Marijuana has other useful products such as hemp. I believe this could provide a good, homebased business for many unemployed persons and, if the government was able to monitor and regulate the sale through small businesses, a safe product should be available to anyone who cares to enjoy marijuana. Anyone purchasing LEGAL marijuana would be thrilled to pay a reasonable tax. Let's try it. It could really affect the criminals where it hurts – in the PROFITS.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  275. bobby

    take advantage of the natural plant god gave to us on earth everyday give thanks like bob marley high and free your mind legalize it in the united states of america smoke a blunt

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  276. Greg Pelander

    Portland, OR

    There's record deficit spending, Osama bin Laden walks free, and this country spends billions on helicopters and cops and lawyers to catch stoners. Give me a break.

    If marijuana is as bad as everybody says it is, then the potheads are punishing themselves enough. Spend my hard-earned tax dollars on real issues.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  277. Emmett Long

    Legalizing pot would not solve America's money problem, but it would help in many other ways...allowing people who need pot for health reasons a safe source (Marrinol and Drunabinol., the "pot" pills do not work as well), creating jobs, freeing up jail space, allowing police to focus on real crimes, taking a lot of power out of the Mexican drug cartels and American street gangs.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  278. crystal scolza

    I think that while legalizing pot will not solve all our problems.the money we will make on taxing pot,what we would not be wasting to fight, prosicute and inprison pot users is a huge dent in the budget.we can focus more agressively on the drugs that are really important and in the long run not paying all that money to try and imprison pot users means we don't have to let real criminals out of jail because of over crowding.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  279. jim simpson

    Jim Simpson , Thomasville Ga.
    Revenue savings would be the larger part of any benefit legalizing marijuana would have on California’s economy. The cost savings for individuals in court cost and for the state in prosecuting and incarcerating violators would outweigh the profits from the sale of marijuana.
    It may well affect boarder security as well

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  280. Bob D, Morrisown, NJ


    When you add the money saved from not incarcerating users and small distributors, and not spending billions on law enforcement, investigation, interdiction, prosecution etc. associated with marijuana the financial benefit to the government of California alone would be much greater than $1.3 billion.

    Truth is, marijuana has never been demonstrated to be more harmful than stuff that is now legal, like alcohol, tobacco, and many prescription meds. Like almost anything else, it can be used productively or abusively, and the choice is best left to individuals, unless their behavior turns abusive towards others. Prohibition of alcohol was a social experiment that proved conclusively that legislating some people's concept of morality is incredibly counter-productive to society at large. That experiment has left us still with the legacy of organized crime, it's a "gift" that keeps on giving.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  281. Joe

    i think everybody else said what i had to say...legalize it, regulate it, and tax it

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  282. reddy

    To see the effects of legal marijuana, you don't have to look at other countries. All you have to do is to look at the costs we all bear just so some of us can use tobacco. And look at how we struggle to keep tobacco away from our children.
    And, where does it stop? Will we be legalizing other drugs too? Will we have to worry about how easily our kids can get their hands on other dangerous drugs? Please keep the drug dealers from showing up at my doorstep with "legal" products.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  283. Bill from Maine


    I can't believe I'm saying this but legalizing marijuana might conceivably have the effect of taking the money out of the hands of the drug dealers and putting it someplace where it can do some good. It may be an idea whose time has come.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  284. Rose Wright

    Yes. Legalizing drugs will not only save our economy future tens of billions now wasted on the failed war on drugs, it will allow a vibrant new hemp-based industry to arise and thrive.
    Hemp is a product whose innumerable, legitimate uses worldwide can will put millions of jobless Americans back to work almost overnight.

    Mid-Michigan Rose

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  285. Derek

    The attitude against legalizing marijuana is false. The greatest proponents against legalization are the pharmaceutical industry, and their lobbyists.

    Have you ever heard of a violence or murder as a result of a marijuana addiction, it is a different class of drug and should be viewed as such.

    In fact, in areas like Amsterdam, use of the drug by local people is far behind areas where it is a topic of a drug war.

    There is no question that legalizing marijuana would have a major effect on raising funds by tax or otherwise, but the greatest savings would come from the court and prison systems. Is anyone taking into account how much money is spent on the legal system against marijuana? Tax it, legalize or decriminalize it, and stop wasting critical DEA and Police money and time on this issue! What would happen to the real areas in the "drug war" if focused effort were able to be enforced?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  286. Debbie Jones

    Taxing pot alone wont fix the deficit problems in CA. However, look at the savings in the legal system and jails alone. If those guys had any fiscal discipline at all (LOL), it would go a long way in closing the gap

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  287. Bert, San Juan PR

    As much sense as it makes to legalize it for freedom's sake alone, I have a feeling that this is what would happen if it became legalized:

    1) those against legalization would push for a prohibitively high tax that would lead to
    2) people purchasing from untaxed sources, such as drug dealers...

    The big money I really believe will come simply from the MAAAAAASSIVE savings from decreased surveillance/prosecution/incarceration/etc of individuals involved with marijuana use/possetion/sale/etc.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  288. Marshall

    The prohibitionists will finally be buried, when the true science is allowed into the light of day. Obama isn't stupid. He's going to let this play it's course. All he had to do was ALLOW science to be heard.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  289. Goeffrey-Charleston, SC

    Legalizing marijuana answer to government’s $ problems?
    No, but a damn fine start.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  290. Zach L

    No Jack, legalizing Marijuana is obviously not the answer to all our government’s money problems but when the top cash crop in the state of Maine is Marijuana over Potatoes and the Majority of voters in California support some kind of legalization,it is about time we evaluate how much taxation could be generated and what laws ought to be changed.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  291. Sherry, N. Calif.

    Yes & No, it is not the answer but it is a start. We could save money if all drugs were legalized and TAXED! Take the glamour and mystique out. I think Rx drugs should be a big worry to lawmakers in keeping our children safe because it is easy to get to as is the booze their parent's drink. I know that pot is hidden from the children to show that Mummy & Daddy do everything by the book.
    Let's get real. Get the illegal guns and Cartel out of our country. That is why they are here. Illegal drugs! So legalize them with regulations like booze & Rx drugs. We are overdue for the remedy so let's get started on solving these problems and quit spending money on programs that do not work, free up our prisons for the real criminals like Madoff, Sanford and the likes. People will do whatever they want in their own homes even if you do not agree with what they do.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  292. Bear in Michigan

    Mr. Cafferty,

    Yes. Absolutely. But do not say "legalizing marijuana." Please use "reform marijuana laws" instead. Many people get the wrong idea that we're just going to repeal all marijuana laws and leave it at that (which is DEFINITELY NOT the case). Instead, we're going to treat marijuana in a similar fashion to alcohol (age limits, license to grow and sell, etc etc).

    According to a recent poll, 52% of Americans would agree to marijuana reform. 37% say no, and 11% are undecided. Sounds like there's already a massive movement to legalize, regulate and restrict marijuana. So how about this, Jack? This debate on whether marijuana should be legal at all is tired out.

    We've heard the prohibitionists: They say marijuana is a gateway drug (disproved by the University of Pittsburgh), that marijuana is dangerous and addictive (marijuana isn't inherently addictive and also has never killed anyone through overdose), that you become lazy and never do anything with your life after smoking pot (the last three presidents and countless others have smoked marijuana before and/or currently smoke it now and they seem to have attained pretty powerful positions) and that we don't want another legal drug in America (marijuana is already here and regulating and restricting it would actually reduce its availability).

    They repeat their mantra in the hopes that anyone is willing to listen to their already tired and false arguments and we're stuck at this point. How about we have a debate, not on why marijuana laws should be reformed, but HOW. Let's talk about the laws we'd put in place once we decided to legalize and regulate marijuana.

    I have some ideas, and I know that others have suggestions as well. So what do you think, Jack? You've been braver than most in discussing marijuana in the first place. Are you ready to talk about the actual laws that we'd put in place of our current, defunct laws?

    I'm eager to hear your as well as other readers' opinions on such a debate. But I think it's time we had it.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  293. Sam Wilkinson

    I'm surprised that marijuana has been outlawed for so long (since 1937). It's a naturally growing herb which has never hurt anyone...all it does is make you feel a bit sleepy and hungry... whereas a poisonous liquid that makes people basically go crazy with violence is legal (alcohol.) It's completely insane. Outlaw alcohol and legalize marijuana. Watch the violent crime rates and auto accidents decrease sharply.

    Plus there's the tax aspect. Take the money out of the criminals pockets and give it to state governments.

    Plus there is the savings aspect. No longer arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating the harmless marijuana grower/smoker/dealer frees up money and police and courthouse staff and jail space for REAL criminals.

    Plus there is the issue of safety for kids. Have you noticed that nobody stands on street corners selling beer or whiskey? Legalizing marijuana makes it harder for kids to get ahold of. It will no longer interest street dealers.

    The drawback is... I can't think of one.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  294. Ande Boggs

    For far too long "pot" has been treated as something abhorrent and thus become illegal; while alcohol and cigarettes have been given a free ride. As a result corruption has occurred from the likes of the DEA and there land and possession grabbing obsession to the prison industrial complex that warehouses otherwise innocent individuals and creating criminals! How can this go on in a country of supposed Freedom and Justice?!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  295. patrick-los angeles, CA

    Ending this modern day prohibition is a no-brainer. It would end the extremely profitable blackmarket trade of marijuana, and put it where the people of California need it(streets, schools, etc.). Why is alcohol, which kills people everyday, legal?? As far as I know, marijuana has killed no one. All it does is mellow people out. The majority knows this in California, and California needs to break ground for changing times.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  296. Johnny V

    I think we should understand why marijuana is illegal in the first place in order to see the history of ignorance and racism that is attached to the plant. The legalization of the cash crop can do more than just help the economy, it can represent the progression of American values and rationale.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  297. Ryan

    If any state is going to do it, california will be the first. There's no reason it shouldn't be legal! Legalize it!!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  298. Lauren in VA

    It would not fix the gov't problem but it will help. The war on drugs is a complete failure. In 2003, the federal gov't spend over $19 billion on the war on drugs. 61% to criminal justice and 30% on treatment & prevention programs. There are too many non-violent drug offenders in the system for marijuana charges, that we, citizens. are paying for. Stop spending money on the war on drugs and start decriminalizaion. It would reduce spending & police man-time, make money (by taxing it), and has tremendous medicinal value. We can even make paper out of it!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  299. Norm

    The actual issue is not pot , it's really about everything that comes with it.
    If it's legalized think about what it will do to the paper and clothing industry. Hemp which is a product, would be much more available for clothing and that would put a dent in the cotton industry, it would also seriously affect the paper industry. Pot grows a lot quicker than trees and it will grow just about anywhere. (hence the term weed) If we are going to consider making it legal or tolerated every aspect of it should be looked at. Honestly, anyone under the influence of marijuana is not going to do much except look for food and a place to sit down which is the exact opposite of someone who is under the influence of alcohol and it's regulated.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  300. cait

    Did legalizing alcohol or subsidizing prescription drugs solve our economic problems?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  301. TMoore

    Jack, whether it's the answer to our money problems is not the issue. It's a matter of civil liberties. Why is it that I can drive down to the local store and legally purchase gallons of the mind altering, life destroying drug that is alcohol, but if I buy a bag of marijuana I'm a crimial? It makes no sense. But what about the children? That's the question everyone seems to be asking. God forbid our children get a hold of weed. That's what this issue is really about–irrationally paranoid parents who are scared that their children will become lazy, cheetohs munching potheads.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  302. Chuck

    There is never a single answer to any money problem. The answer lies in a culmination of smaller solutions. Legalizing marijuana will not save California, but it will most certainly help to relieve strain on the state’s funds. Legalizing marijuana would have a greater effect if implemented on a national level. It would not only bring added income, but reduce money wasted within the DEA.

    – Chuck from Palm Beach County, Florida

    May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  303. Adam


    Let's be honest...it's fun to complain, why else is this such a big deal. I'm glad he brought up the issue. I'm not a Marijuana Smoker, but healthy debate is one of the fundemental strenghts of our society. Let's get it out on the table and see what the people think. And who knows, if it has a benefit, it may not solve all of CA's problems, but it could lesson at least some of the tensions. And let's be real, that's worth talking about...

    May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  304. John Young

    Legalization may not solve America's economic problems, but I believe the $10 billion plus now spent on intradiction and imprisoning offenders could be put to better use. Money is the engine that drives the drug trade. Take the money out of drugs and many of the associated problems will go away.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  305. Al

    Legalize, tax the heck out of it... The only losers will bl e the border banks whowash the illegal cash mules across the southern. Border

    May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  306. Tim

    Of course it does unless your in the alcohol industry who will see sales of the product drop or, your in the pharmaceutical industry who won't be able to sell as many of those side effect riddled cancer drugs anymore. These industries spend millions lobbying against the legalization of pot that's the only reason congress hasn't recognized what the growing majority of people believe.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  307. Ryan S

    There has been no documented case of death by marijuana. If anything should be illegal it should be ciggaretes and alcohol.It can be used for medicine , clothing and even ethanol. So I don't understand if Tomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers smoked weed I don't understand why we can't now. The tax revenue is just a bonus. So if weed is up for consideration for legalization I sure think it should be legalized even if it's not for consumption.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  308. Scott in San Diego

    As you know, the cost of the failed (and increasingly failing) so-called “war on drugs” is astronomical – in dollars, in lives ruined, and in lives lost. The logical methodology of removing criminal incentives in a case like this of course can be easily seen in the post-prohibition treatment of alcohol.

    Legalize, regulate, and tax. And of course, educate.

    Fear mongering is not the way to go. And in a world where such a wealth of information and opinion is so readily available, it just doesn’t work anymore… if it ever really did.

    Americans are not stupid, so why do we treat them that way? Why does the government pretend it can tell someone what to do in respect to their own body? You well know, it should be up to the individual to decide what they do to or for their own body, or not.

    So instead of ridiculous, trumped up demonization, how about some real facts from our government for a change on something like cannabis? It’s certainly not for everyone, and definitely not for all-the-time. But it’s also not the gateway to death and destruction that some would make it out to be. I can’t imagine that most of our business and governmental leaders at some point haven’t tried it, smoked it regularly, or maybe even still do. Who cares, really? As long as they get the job done, and don’t jeopardize someone else. Look at our new President. Look at Michael Phelps. It can hardly be said that it is a barrier to success or productivity. I’d actually be kind of be wary of anyone who hadn’t tried it. How could someone so sheltered or close-minded ever be able to empathize with or lead the rest of us who live out here in the real world?
    And beyond all the aforementioned philosophical mumbo jumbo… from a straight tax revenue standpoint, legalization makes as much sense as the lottery – through and through it’s a good idea, and it’s up to the individual whether to participate or not. What the heck is wrong with that??

    Congratulations, Governor, for exhibiting the cajones we wish all our elected officials could muster.

    And one more thing, find a way to run for President, for God’s sake!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  309. Samantha

    There is no one solution to economic chaos. Legalization of marijuana will not solve all these problems. However, it is common sense to say that if this was made available legally, and taxed, that there would be a significant release of money into the economy. The statistics collected during this 30 year war in drugs could be used as valuable market information to correctly establish the potential revenue generated by legalization. This is a rare opportunity for government to make money and give people their freedom. Of course California's revenue would be increased! The nations marijuana users would finally have a place to spend their money.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  310. Brian Maldonado

    Isn't it just like the prohibition of alcohol?
    it was illegal but people still managed to get it. Not to mention The millions that are spent each year fighting the traffic of drugs. the countless deaths just for control of the traffic of illicit drugs. it would help the paper industry due to the fact that marihuana is an abundant source of hemp, which has proven itself as a very versatile material. lets open up the floor for discussion. keep in mind that no one has ever died of marihuana poisoning, can the same be said about alcohol which is legal.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  311. Troy From Calgary, AB

    Now Let's see..California banned smoking tobacco everywhere in public, but considers legalizing pot? Where would one smoke their joint? I guess lighting up at the bar while having a beer is out of the question.

    Can one grow his/her own marijuana in their backyard without a permit, or does the gov't plan to have regulated marijuana fields?

    People will buy this stuff on the black market anyway, because nobody in their right mind will pay for high-taxed weed. Furthermore, you'll get a drug smuggling problem with neighboring states and Mexico. similar with "B.C. Bud" being smuggled across the Alberta border and Washington state.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  312. Steve Fitzgerald

    Hey Jack

    Ask the California school system if they wouldn't like over a billion dollar infusion of funds, or the hospitals. Or ask just about any other state agency if that amount of money (or the billions more to come over the years in the future) would be just a "drop in the bucket." The legalization of marijuana is an idea whose time has come. Comparatively speaking, the effects of alcohol far outweigh those of marijuana. It's ridiculous that alcohol should be legal and marijuana criminal. What else could Schwarzenegger do that would cut the legs off the drug cartels thus cutting crime, save money on enforcement, decrease the caseload in our overburdened court system, decrease the problem of prison overpopulation, get more people the treatment they need AND make billions of dollars for the government to boot? Legalization is a win win situation for all.

    I'll smoke to that.

    Steve Fitzgerald

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  313. Joel

    Hello Jack,
    I'm a college senior in California and I can tell you that no amount of marijuana sales are going to get us out of our current deficit, although it could help. Californians should think long and hard over the pros and cons of legalization. The amount of fellow students, friends and acquaintances I know of that use marijuana is substantial to say the least. Shocking as it seems I have known people in positions of "high repute" that were marijuana users. More important than the money it could bring, legalizing marijuana would stop the criminalizing of good, otherwise law abiding citizens who may enjoy a puff now and then. If alcohol is legal, why not pot?

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  314. J.D. Monticello Arkansas

    Jack, I'm a 68 yr old white guy, I have glaucoma, I have been using "cannabis" for six yrs now. I have only 20/50 vision in one eye, blind in the other. But Jack the greatest reason to legalize it, is to take control away from the criminals. We have watched with disbelief as our government has failed to stop drugs from our cities and towns for nearly forty years. So to legalize, would remove black market profits, and sell only to adults, can't count on the criminals to do that. So to continue the same policy is nothing but a full employment act for criminals. Come on America, we don't need to support an ongoing criminal enterprise. If our "officials" are incapable of controlling legal drugs, we need some new and capable "officials".

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  315. William

    It's a good part of an answer. Not only would it provide tax revenue, but it would provide jobs as the market moves from "black" to free, it would also save the goverment tons on the "war on drugs". How much money do we waste on finding, prosecuting, and jailing these victimless criminals? How much do we spend providing for the families of those in prison? I was verry dissapointed when Obama sluffed off the #1 question of his internet town meeting.
    William, Gainesville, GA

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  316. John - Toronto, Canada

    A waste of money is all that the war against pot is. Treat it like alcohol, no driving after smoking it, no smoking it in public places etc. I really don't understand any arguments against it. Hopefully American and Canadian politicians will realize this already.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  317. Terry Pierson

    Yes. It would not solve everything but it would help. Not only could the government get money from taxing it but the money it would save from not paying for all of those non-violent criminals to sit in jail would be worth it alone. Funds for the war on drugs could then be used to combat the serious "hard" drug threats in our country. Not to mention that most of the people left who support this government intrusion in to private life are the same people who scoff at gun control or other federal regulations.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  318. David Christie

    It isn't only the revenue that could be raised from taxing the proceeds of marijuana sales that would help our economy.

    The tangential costs to our economy could be eliminated which make the tax revenues seem trivial.

    The pointless and counterproductive war on people who use drugs results in the squandering of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to maintain a monstrous, monolithic and entrenched police state bureaucracy.

    It tramples our Constitutional rights and unjustly criminalizes Americans for making personal choices that the government has no business meddling in.

    The only benefit that these laws provide is to the the control freaks who use them to dismantle our lives, our rights and to justify their existence while lining their pockets with our tax dollars....nothing more.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  319. Molly

    The government needs to legalize: marijuana, illegal inmigrants and prostitution to get out of this crisis and debt!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  320. esther e. berger

    Legalizing marijuana is not only about tax revenue, it's also about the millions of dollars it will save on the billions spent on the drug wars. Living on the Mexican border, we are subjected daily to stories and photos of hundreds of tons of marijuana being shipped to the U.S. plus visually noting the number of border patrols, security, etc. used in this marijuana war. Another factor would be the marijuana users being held in the prisons. By legalizing marijuana it would not only generate tax revenue, it would also have a great impact on the prison population by releasing prisoners arrested for marijuana use. This law is way past due and hopefully will pass quickly. Keep the drug war going for the hard drugs, cocaine, etc.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  321. Charles

    Sure legalize it, the governments not going to stop the use of it anyway so they may as well tax it. The money that will be saved trying to fight it along with the taxes generated will bring in a lot of money. Cigarettes and alcohol are responsible for thousands of deaths each year and their not illegal, at least marijuana has some medical benefits.

    May 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  322. Patrick, Lake Stevens, Washington

    No, Jack, but given California's budget issues maybe they should draft legislation to legalize marijuana for a year to see what kind of revenue it brings to the state. If it is determined after the trial period that the rewards offset the risks, then maybe they should legalize it on a permanent basis. Puff away!

    May 7, 2009 at 5:27 pm |