WASHINGTON: Boy did a lot of people suddenly start smoking marijuana.
Washingtonians and visitors have spent almost a quarter-billion dollars on retail weed since legalization. It’s a lot of money. Enough to cover a week’s worth of Forest Service firefighting costs this August. Enough to pay Marshawn Lynch for almost 21 years of Beast Mode at his current compensation.
A lot of money. Unless you compare it to something much more expensive: the drug war.
In that case, it’s a pittance.
A decade ago, a team of economists tried to estimate the total cost of pot prohibition nationwide, arriving at an estimate of $10 billion to $14 billion a year. Split the difference and factor in inflation, and Washington’s first pot year starts to look puny – it would finance about 1.7 percent of the annual cost of enforcing our country’s unjust and wasteful reefer madness.