According to one recent poll, 51% of Coloradans support re-legalizing marijuana. Ending marijuana prohibition in Colorado is not only politically feasible, it makes economic sense. According to Miron and Waldock, in police expenditures alone, Colorado spends $36.6 million per year enforcing laws against marijuana. A surprising 89.5% of this money is spent pursuing those who merely possess marijuana.65 Colorado also spends an estimated $20.7 million in court costs and nearly $18 million in incarcerating marijuana offenders.66 So by merely re-legalizing marijuana, Colorado’s net savings would be approximately $74 million per year.67 To put this savings in perspective, public K-12 school budgets were cut by $227.5 million in fiscal year 2011-12 due to budget shortfalls.
. . . Miron and Waldock estimate that Colorado could raise $47.29 million in tax revenue by re-legalizing and taxing marijuana.
So if Colorado re-legalized marijuana, Colorado could have restored half of the very large cuts that had to be made in state funding to K-12 schools.
That is from the new paper Reducing the Drug War’s Damage to Government Budgets by Kopel and Burrus.