$3 Billion in Tax Revenue Waiting to be Legal
As realizations of a completely failed cannabis prohibition policy are mounting, experts are crunching the numbers to figure out just how much money state governments are missing out on. This years estimate: $3.1 Billion. That looks like some good education funding, or perhaps incentives for carbon reductions.
This news comes amidst an atmosphere in Washington DC that seems to be leaning toward redefining the current drug policy with a push for recreational use. Eric Holder said he would consider lowering the drug classification of marijuana recently, and his replacement has for a long time worked with the ACLU to end mass incarceration. More on that later though, it’s money time.
State by State Numbers Look Amazing
A personal finance site, NerdWallet made the estimations recently and they broke the revenue down by state. They mentioned that California stands to gain the most from a revised policy, to the tune of $519 million dollars. The money could be used to help end illegal grows on state grounds, increase security and funding to schools, and pay for a road or two. Especially when it is Super Lemon Haze from Green House Seed Co.
All of these numbers are based on sales of marijuana and do not include marijuana related products like lotions, vaporizers, green house supplies and advertising. The full range of taxes that would be generated is hard to correctly estimate, and is based on assumptions that usage data is correct, but with Colorado creating $70 million in it’s first legal year, the numbers probably are not that far off.
Save Money and End over Incarceration
On the other side of the coin to be earned, is coin to be saved. The cost of the war on marijuana was estimated by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron to cost tax payers roughly $8 Billion dollars. With an ever present funding shortage, there is a need to make better use of taxpayer money and our marijuana policy is one of the easiest fixes. Make money and save money at the same time. Legalization would open up an entirely standardized industry and create markets wherever local governments allow and protect users from incarceration, fines and improper growing techniques.
Marijuana is being smoked for recreation and as medicine in every state and country in the world, despite tight drug laws and heavy incarcerations. The pragmatic view of the situation is the government has done little to control the flow of the drug and has missed out on billions of dollars in tax money, while spending billions enforcing failed laws and keeping non-violent criminals in overcrowded, expensive and ineffective detention and rehabilitation system. The Obama administration just might do it folks.