Decriminalizing Marijuana Could Save Rhode Island $11 Million Annually


Photo: xCannabis

​According to Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron’s estimates, reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil fine would save Rhode Island about $11.1 million per year in reduced expenditures on police.

Miron also estimates that taxing and regulating marijuana would save the state roughly $40.5 million per year in reduced expenditures on police, prosecutors, judges and prisons. Taxing and regulating marijuana could also generate about $7.6 million per year in tax revenue, according to Miron.
Miron will testify Thursday before Rhode Island’s Marijuana Prohibition Study Commission and explain how changing the state’s current medical marijuana policies could save tens of millions of dollars annually, and possibly even generate additional tax revenue.

Photo: Economics – Wayne Marr
Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron

​The commission, chaired by state Senator Joshua Miller (D-Cranston), has been studying the costs of current marijuana policy in Rhode Island since November.
Rhode Island, facing a budget crisis, tasked the panel to build a dossier on how much it costs to arrest prosecute, and sometimes jail people for pot.
“Professor Miron’s estimates illustrate just one of the many reasons why Rhode Island lawmakers should consider changing the state’s disastrous prohibition on the nation’s largest cash crop,” said Robert Caspecchi, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project.
“As lawmakers examine the economically unsound and wasteful policies that unnecessarily arrest, prosecute and incarcerate thousands of individuals simply for using a substance that is safer than alcohol, I hope they pay particular attention to Professor Miron’s findings, especially in these tough economic times,” Capecchi said.
WHO: Prof. Jeffrey Miron, Department of Economics at Harvard University
WHAT: Meeting of Rhode Island’s Marijuana Prohibition Study Commission
WHEN: Thursday, March 4, 5 p.m.
WHERE: Room 212 in the State House, Providence, R.I.