Pot Legalization Would Improve Safety: Study

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 12:17 PM PDT
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Pot Legalization Would Improve Safety: Study

NBCMiami.com

Jim Lewis at a pro pot rally at the Broward County Courthouse on October 12, 2010.

Yesterday, we learned that legalizing pot would give the state a financial shot in the arm. Today, we're learning that legalization could provide a significant boost to public safety, too.

That's the conclusion of a new study by the RAND Corporation, which examined the potential impacts of Prop 19. Chief among those effects would be "defunding" unregulated black markets like local drug dealers and cartels.

With pot regulated and controlled like alcohol, the market will grow increasingly stable, the study concludes. In addition, a regulated industry will provide safer pot to customers, rather than the mysterious unregulated hodgepodge that millions of Americans currently smoke.

Of course, the Drug Enforcement Administration, which rakes in boatloads of cash to perform risky, ineffective raids, might disagree. But the study makes short work of the DEA's claims, writing that the government's "existing estimates about drug production and consumption are cryptic, inconsistent, and often impossible to verify." In other words, the government's statistics might as well be completely made up, just like the imagined "risks" of smoking pot. "The most significant harm associated with smoking cannabis is being arrested," says one pot expert.

According to the RAND study, should pot be legalized, cartels would find pot prices drop so dramatically -- and quality improve -- that the black market would be more more lucrative than growing carrots. Current estimates suggest that drug cartels could stand to lose as much as $2 billion if Prop 19 passes.

These estimates are far from speculative. The effects of a domestic pot industry are already felt in counties like Mendocino, where black-market drugs have been edged out by locally-produced cannabis.

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