There is an increasing trend towards the legalization of marijuana across the U.S. with 11 States now allowing its recreational and medical use. In fact, it is widely anticipated that other States will join this growing number in 2021. Pundits expect that New York, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico will join other states in legalizing marijuana, which comes as no surprise when one considers that the industry is expected to deliver around $6 billion in new business opportunities (and related tax revenue) within the next few years.
If one takes a closer look at the benefits of legalization, can an argument be made that other States should follow suit – or that the federal government should be taking the step of simply legalizing marijuana for consumption across the entire country, as Canada did in 2018?
There can be every little doubt that legalizing marijuana brings a host of benefits to those States that take this step. Firstly the marijuana industry now employees around 250,000 workers (upstream and downstream of the supply chain). This is anticipated to be only the tip of the iceberg should the trend towards legalization continue. The fact that the legal marijuana industry has the potential to provide employment for hundreds of thousands of more workers who are currently struggling to find jobs should not be dismissed.
Employment is only one of the benefits that the legalization of marijuana provides. Each state that has legalized consumption (either for medicinal purposes or recreational purposes) has seen a welcome spike in tax revenues. It is interesting to note that almost all the States where marijuana is legal to have seen fit to designate the marijuana business as essential when the Covid-19 shelter-in-place regulations took effect.
In fact, the estimate of hundreds of thousands of new jobs being created if marijuana was legalized nationally may be wildly pessimistic. According to New Frontier Data (a research company specializing in the marijuana industry), national legalization may deliver 1.6 million new jobs across the country, aside from an anticipated additional $128.8 billion in tax revenue.
There is another aspect to legalization – and that is to halt the influence of organized crime. Studies indicate that 30% of Mexican drug cartel revenue is derived from growing and smuggling marijuana. The societal benefits of halting this trade are inestimable.
When all is said and done legalization of the marijuana industry makes sense. It also will provide growers and distributors with additional opportunities – and the knock-on effects on employment and the wellbeing of the country as a whole must factor in when any discussion on the industry takes place.