Anita Bartholomew looks at the War on Drugs price tag - and what we could better spend it on in the current economic crisis:

As long as marijuana is illegal, we’ll still be directing billions to enforcement, prosecution and incarceration. And we still won’t realize the revenues that regulation and taxation can bring.

We could use those lost billions right now. Estimates of the combined savings from legalizing marijuana, and revenues from taxing it like alcohol or tobacco, range from $13.94 to $41.8 billion per year. That’s enough to pay for all or most of President-elect Obama’s proposed ten-year, $150 billion alternative energy investment. Or it could contribute roughly one-fifth to one-half of the $75 billion per year estimated cost of Obama’s proposal to extend health insurance to all.