by James Bridges
Since 1971, the war on drugs has cost the United States an estimated $1 trillion. In 2015, the federal government spent an estimated $9.2 million every day to incarcerate people charged with drug-related offenses that’s more than $3.3 billion annually.
State governments spent another $7 billion in 2015 to incarcerate individuals for drug-related charges. North Carolina, for example, spent more than $70 million incarcerating people for drug possession. Georgia spent $78.6 million just to lock up people of color for drug offense 1.6 times more than the state’s budget current for substance use treatment services.
In contrast, marijuana legalization would save roughly $7.7 billion per year in averted enforcement costs and would yield an additional $6 billion in tax revenue. The net total $13.7 billion could send more than 650,000 students to public universities every year.