Some states in the USA have already legalized recreational marijuana, and it has created a hive of economic activity. With billions of dollars in new revenue created seemingly overnight, the people of Colorado (and other states) have been the major beneficiaries.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of legal cannabis, there is one fact that cannot be denied: it benefits the people. Between the money invested in the growth and distribution of marijuana and the taxes levied on the retail sale, the industry generates more revenue than 90% of other economic activities within the state. With other states looking to follow the lead of Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, state legislatures will find it hard to deny the billions in new revenue.
States Where Marijuana is Already Legal
The use of recreational marijuana is legal in some for in:
- Massachusetts (legal to grow and possess)
- Maine (legal to grow and possess)
In states such as Colorado, there are full-fledged shops selling marijuana. In other states, laws limit citizens to carrying only small amounts and the sale is still illegal.
The Benefits of Legal Marijuana for States
Since it is the state with the most developed system, focusing on Colorado paints a comprehensive picture of the benefits of a legal cannabis system. According to a study by the Marijuana Policy Group, the industry has generated $2.4 BILLION dollars in economic output. The retail, cultivation, and manufacturing of marijuana has benefited the state via:
Job Creation: Over 18,000 new jobs have been created in the state. Aside from direct job creation—cultivators, salespeople, consultants, delivery people, etc.—this burgeoning industry has created over 5,000 ancillary jobs. Real estate agents, HVAC specialists, security guards, legal advisors, and other business services are in demand to help the industry grow.
Tourism: Colorado isn’t just a hotspot for skiing anymore. Visitors from surrounding states and the country itself are pouring into Colorado to experience the legal cannabis industry.
Tax Revenue: Direct taxes levied on the recreational cannabis industry generated $121 million in extra revenue for the state, with that number expected to grow to nearly $150 million by 2020 (accounting for consumers shifting to the legal sphere and away from the black market).
School Funding: The wholesale marijuana tax is entirely dedicated to schools. It funds a program for building new facilities and upgrading current ones, especially in rural areas. The rest of the tax is free to be spent by the state legislature, with a significant portion going to marijuana education programs and law enforcement.
Colorado has led the way for states that want to legalize and benefit from the sale of marijuana. And, for states thinking of good reasons to legalize and regulate their cannabis market, Colorado can think of $2.4 billion good ones.
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