There can be very little argument that the push for the nationwide legalization of cannabis has now gained almost unstoppable momentum. To date, 15 states have legalized weed, either for medicinal or recreational use. 2021 Isalmost certain to see other states pass legislation legalizing marijuana consumption. The smart money is on New York, Florida, and Ohio to join the ever-growing list of states where weed is legal.
Just why are states so enthusiastic about weed? After all, it was not so long ago that those who used marijuana were treated (to a greater or lesser extent) as social pariahs?
Firstly, medical studies are increasingly showing that there are benefits to the use of cannabis to treat conditions such as chronic pain and diabetes, as well as helping with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
However, the states are not primarily interested in these benefits. Those in state government are more attracted to the idea of topping up state coffers with tax and other revenue that flows from legalization – and the projects that can be funded by the additional fiscal shot in the arm. Those states have looked at examples such as Colorado where cannabis consumption is legal and realized that there is an untapped source of income that is waiting to be exploited.
Colorado is the perfect example of just how beneficial the legal cannabis industry can be. In 2019 it reported revenues of $302 million from taxes, licenses and fees related to the marijuana business. However, the wider effects of legalization in that state also provide an insight into just why legalization simply makes sense. Examining just how the revenue from the marijuana industry was spent speaks volumes about just how legalization can benefit a state’s citizens, irrespective of whether they use marijuana or not.
In the fiscal year 2018-2019 Colorado invested close on $70m of the tax revenue from economic activity related to the marijuana industry in social serves (including health services). The state set aside a considerable portion of another $20m for the construction of affordable housing, as well as K-12 schooling. More went to agriculture, public safety and bolstering the justice system.
Legalizing cannabis also provides more job opportunities. It is estimated that Califonia has seen the creation of 81,000 new jobs as a result of legalization.
New Frontier, a well-respected research house specializing in the marijuana industry estimates that federal legislation legalizing cannabis would result in the creation of 1 million jobs by 2025.
When all of these factors are taken into account it is no wonder that the trend towards legalization is gathering momentum – and this is good news for aspirant growers and those who want to become involved in the industry in retail or as one of the secondary suppliers that will inevitably focus on the marijuana sector (think financial services, construction and software development).