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Anti-Cannabis Study About the Costs of Legalizing Marijuana Doesn't Actually Calculate the Costs of Legalizing Marijuana

Many anti-marijuana advocates are citing a study about the supposed costs of legalizing marijuana in Colorado as proof that legalization is a bad idea. There's just one problem: the study they are citing is widely flawed.

Reason did a takedown on a study by Colorado Christian University's Centennial Institute about the costs of legalizing marijuana in Colorado. While there are many flaws Reason points out, the biggest issue they note is that the study doesn't actually show how costs have increased since marijuana legalization.

For instance, the study claims that marijuana causes people to become lazy and physically inactive. They then say that this adds an additional $54,833,218 in healthcare costs for physically inactive people who use marijuana. But Reason points out that the study doesn't delve into whether this would be different without marijuana. Perhaps all those physically inactive stoners would still be physically inactive stoners even if marijuana was illegal. There's no correlation or causation related to legalization in that data point. 

The biggest cost in the Centennial Institute's study revolves around high school drop outs. The study says marijuana legalization cost the state $423,362,337.22 from high school dropouts, since the average high school dropout makes around $334,716.12 less money in their life than someone who completes high school. The problem is they're saying that this FUTURE hypothetical earnings decrease is a CURRENT cost of legalizing marijuana. That would be like someone losing $20, and someone else saying they actually lost $1,000 because if they had invested that money into an IRA, in like 50 years it could've been worth $1,000.

Essentially, the study simply looks at all the costs of marijuana and blames it on legalization. But people obviously used marijuana prior to legalization, so the study needs to look at how legalization increased these costs. They fail to do so, and therefore their numbers can't be trusted.

So if you ever see the argument that, "For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent approximately $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization," which this study claims, just no that it's completely BS.

(h/t Reason)


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