While the availability of legal marijuana isn’t quite on par with, say, the availability of alcohol, cigarettes, or pharmaceutical drugs, things are certainly trending in a positive direction. And as legalization spreads, monies collected through marijuana taxes will benefit more people.
As we’ve previously mentioned, medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states, and adults in eight states can now use pot for recreational purposes. Three out of four adults believe states should have the power to establish their own marijuana laws, and only 14 percent think the Justice Department should bypass state legislation in order to enforce federal laws and prosecute marijuana laws.
Part of pot’s path toward increased legalization in the U.S. is the result of strong advocacy efforts, especially regarding the drug’s ability to help people suffering from a wide variety of health conditions. An even bigger factor, arguably, is marijuana’s ability to generate money — and lots of it.
While America is the global leader when it comes to growing legal marijuana, producing the highest quality marijuana, and having the largest market for marijuana, we are being outpaced by other countries when it comes to research, science, and trade.
As CNBC points out, numerous countries around the world are using a top-down approach of legalizing pot at the federal level, as opposed to our state-by-state, bottom-up model.
Canada, for example, has already launched a federal medicinal marijuana program, and will launch a full recreational program in 2018. Right now, our neighbors to the north have the world’s second largest market for marijuana at $500 million. When their recreational program is launched, that number that will grow to an estimated $618 million in 2018 and $22 billion by 2020.
Elsewhere, the Dutch government generates more than $600 million in marijuana taxes annually from its coffee shops, and Spain, Mexico, Australia, Italy, Colombia, South Africa, and Israel each see varying levels of pot profits each year. England would rake in an estimated £1 billion in new taxes if it legalized pot, and while the U.S. market for marijuana was $7.9 billion in 2016 — and will likely hit $21 billion by 2020 — it could be astronomically higher if both medical and recreational legalization were to spread nationwide. And with the tax revenues, jobs, and projects marijuana is already funding, it will likely be only a matter of time before even the most anti-pot lawmakers see the light about letting people light up.
Consider These Numbers:
- Marijuana taxes netted Colorado more than $105 for the 2016-17 fiscal year, and more than a half billion dollars since 2014. These funds go largely toward public health programs, housing for at-risk residents, student scholarships, anti-opioid treatment, and the rebuilding of crumbling public schools.
- The cannabis industry contributes a total annual economic of more than $1.2 billion in Oregon. An estimated 12,500 pot-related jobs have been created there with cumulative annual wages of $315 million.
- When recreational marijuana is finally available for purchase in Massachusetts in 2018, it could be subject to as much as a 28 percent tax, with a portion of that tax revenue going to fund substance abuse treatment.
- Legalizing recreational marijuana could help the deficit-plagued state of Connecticut pay down its debt, as well as fund its pension obligations and health-care expenses.
It’s already common knowledge that legalizing marijuana can help to slow down drug trafficking, reduce drug-related crime, and help people deal with illness. But as the above figures indicate, it can take our economy to new highs, as well.