America is a lot more divided than ever before, but there is one subject about which we all seem to agree: Marijuana laws really have to reform. States across the board seem to be keen and prepared to legalize marijuana, or at the very least to decriminalize it. Even groups in the media you wouldn’t expect are on board. Of course, organizations like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are pushing for marijuana laws to change, but did you know that so is the Economist, a solidly conservative publication?
Marijuana legalization seems poised to one day sweep the nation, and why not? There is an assortment of reasons for its legalization: closing out the moral panic over drugs, decreasing crime rates and our overall prison population and disputing the racist marijuana policy. But among all these practical reasons, one may seem like to cry out louder than the rest: legalizing marijuana would give the United States billions of dollars, giving our country’s economy a much required boost. Marijuana legalization would also immensely enhance state coffers, local communities, not to mention it would save regional and state governments large amounts of money in squandered law enforcement dollars.
The most apparent economic aspect of the case for marijuana legalization exists in tax revenues. After all, the annual trade of marijuana is now estimated to be at $113 billion, which is about $45 billion in taxes. Tax authorities are in fact missing out on municipal, state and federal taxes which could finance a broad selection of resources. The money could even be well budgeted to support plans for hard drug users, given the existing incarceration rate. Also, if taking marijuana out of the black market also provides clear savings for the government on top of net tax gains, in addition to ensuring a safe and governed product. The drug war is well known for costing the U.S. government a remarkable sum and while these ventures embody a vast range of Schedule I drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and meth, among others), spending to enforce the law for those illegal substances would greatly decrease without marijuana.
Through legislation, many other factors of debt and spending would also lower if marijuana laws were to change– first among them being prison expenses. Statistically, an estimated one in four people are in prison because of a non-violent drug offense. This entails the possession, sale, and repeat offense related to marijuana. Marijuana-related busts make up a huge portion of law enforcement actions involving drugs.
Cutting down on the number of people incarcerated for a relevant offense also has secondary economic benefits, by keeping people in their own neighborhoods. Systemic poverty can be directly linked to fractured communities, such as those that have been torn apart by the drug war. Making it possible for people to remain with their family, economically get included in their communities and contribute to society which all enhances not only their own economic situation, but the community’s as well.
Economically, the legalization of marijuana would certainly create a ripple effect through associated industries. Cultivation, farmers, farmworkers, fertilizer firms, and various other manufacturers of agricultural products all stand to benefit. In addition, given the vast power requirements related with indoor growing, it’s possible that the potential spurt in marijuana cultivation could also increase the alternative energy industry– particularly as consumers push for organic and ethically produced marijuana. In addition, a boost in open cultivation would lessen illegal farming, fertilizer pollution, and similar concerns, which is fundamentally better for the natural environment. Without the need to use the services of crews to take care of expanding operations, such marijuana producers could spend their funds more appropriately.
It seems somewhat counteractive that a nation that loves to promote free market capitalism would be so hesitant in legalizing marijuana. The tangle of morals and intoxicants doesn’t appear to have an impact on the legalization of tobacco and alcohol, whose business communities remain really controlled and extraordinarily profitable. There is some light peeking through the clouds of pretension, nonetheless, with Washington D.C., Oregon and Alaska now in the process of marijuana legalization. And even though the legalisation measure was shot down in Florida, it was only a bit of a setback. It appears that at this direction, these states will join the ranks of Washington and Colorado, who have in fact completely legalized marijuana.