Matt Yglesias explains one of the main points of our marijuana legalization book: legal pot would be dirt-cheap. (Much cheaper per stoned hour than beer.) That’s been acknowledged by some advocates, including Dale Gieringer of California NORML, but it’s still denied by others.

Two nice things about Matt’s piece: he completely gets the argument, and he writes beautifully. (Shoulda had him as a co-author.) My favorite line:

There are no amber waves of cannabis anywhere in the world today, but under a true legalization regime there would be. And this makes all the difference.

Note that state-level legalization is about the geometric mean between full prohibition or medical-use-only and full national legalization. A gram of high-quality cannabis from a dealer or dispensary today costs $10-$15; if a state legalized, that would fall to $1-$1.50; as a purely legal product, that would be more like a dime (before tax).

In a separate post, Matt also takes on the argument that legalization would eliminate law enforcement costs. Hint: it didn’t for alcohol.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

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Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.