Written by Steve Collett, UCLA School of Public Affairs Class of 2013 (Masters in Public Policy)
A growing consensus is forming among economists and criminologists that drug prohibition, rather than drug use itself, is a leading cause of violence and property crime, resulting in urban decay and losses to real estate values.
Following are thirteen ways that various forms of drug legalization could improve retail, housing, and agricultural real estate values:
- Legalization would reduce violence committed to resolve disputes by participants in black markets created by prohibition. That violence reduces real estate values in areas where prohibited drug trafficking occurs.
- Property crime would decrease by drug users who commit such crimes to support purchases of drugs at prices inflated by prohibition.
- Scarce law enforcement resources, when no longer diverted to drug prohibition activities, would be more capable of preventing violence and other crimes which reduce property values.
- Real estate and business owners could benefit from regulated rather than prohibited trade, resulting in increased rentals and income generated from additional legal commerce;
- Landlords would no longer face asset forfeiture proceedings from prohibited tenant activities, as is the case with current federal forfeiture threats regarding marijuana dispensary tenants;
- Legalization would reduce the number of drug houses, meth labs, asset forfeitures and resulting negative consequences to home and surrounding property values;
- Taxes to pay for costs of prohibition reduce purchasing power for retail real estate customers, who have less to spend due to higher taxes and have less purchasing power when the government inflates the value of money with deficits;
- Enormous government spending fueled by drug prohibition policies wastes limited government resources, and diverts funds which could otherwise be spent on infrastructure, environment, and other programs which could improve overall property values;
- Legalization would reduce prison populations. Someone in prison or with no job due to a criminal record can’t buy a retailer’s products. They can’t purchase a home or pay rent. They can’t pay child support to cover the rent for children;
- Legalization of marijuana, California’s largest cash crop, could generate enormous revenues for California’s agriculture industry, thereby increasing land values;
- Legalization of hemp as an agricultural product could further boost agricultural land values. Hemp is a versatile, durable plant product that “grows like a weed” and has multiple commercial uses. It grows particularly well in many areas not otherwise suitable for agriculture;
- Legalization would result in an end to crop eradication activities, which damage property and reduce the value of crop eradicated real estate;
- Real estate values would improve in segments of Mexico and other areas which have suffered a mass exodus as a result of violence caused by drug prohibition policies.
Drug legalization efforts offer a number of economic opportunities, including increased trade, reduced federal, state and local government law enforcement, prosecution and incarceration costs, more government revenue and improved retail, business, residential and agricultural real estate values. It also offers a world with fewer prisoners, better health care, less discrimination and more humane treatment for the victims of drug addiction and abuse.