Skip to main content
In Brief

Smoking Away the Deficit

Marijuana Leaf New
Several studies suggest marijuana use may help reduce risk factors for diabetes. (Image credit: Alorusalorus | Dreamstime)

The government could legalize marijuana and shrink the federal deficit in a single hit. At least, that's what two politicians think.  Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) say the Fed could save billions of dollars by jointly taxing pot and cutting costs in drug enforcement and incarceration.

"We are trying to rationalize federal drug policy," Blumenauer told Top Line. "We're spending too much money on enforcement for something most Americans think should be legal, and we're losing revenue."

Colorado and Washington have already legalized recreational marijuana, and are taxing and regulating the drug. Blumenauer and Polis think the federal government should take a similar approach to blaze the deficit away. Some say pot could be a gateway to other drugs, but Blumenauer rejects the notion. Pot legalization and regulation will make it tougher for kids to score some, he said.

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+.

Tanya Lewis
Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit her website.