Marijuana’s legalization continues to spread across the U.S.
In the midterm elections, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational cannabis use.
Voters in Missouri and Utah passed initiatives to approve medical cannabis, growing that list to 33 states.
Popularity of the plant for medicinal and recreational use – and its positive economic impact on some states where marijuana is legal – will lead to more states legalizing it.
A recent Pew Research Center survey shows 62 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legalized, with 74 percent of millennials in favor, along with 63 percent of Gen Xers and 54 percent of baby boomers.
State tax revenues related to both recreational and medicinal marijuana sales in Colorado totaled nearly $250 million last year. Some projections see California collecting over $1 billion annually.
The walls are coming down and legalized cannabis is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, attracting investors and state governments.
The landscape is changing because policy follows sentiment, and it’s a great economic growth opportunity for states on several levels.
Attention policy-makers: four key ways cannabis legalization can benefit your state:
- It creates jobs. Nurseries and dispensaries, as evidenced in the cannabis-legal states, create many employment opportunities. In California, over 80,000 jobs came about (producing a $3.5 billion increase in labor income) due to legalized marijuana sales, according to a study by ICF International. Colorado, which saw an estimated $2.4 billion worth of cannabis-related economic activity in 2015, has over 40,000 occupational licenses connected to the cannabis industry. Just for starters, you need people to farm, distribute, and sell products. Then you have a whole host of industries doing support work for the cannabis-related companies.
- It boosts tax revenues. Along with the big haul state governments can make are the ways that new state money can be invested in education and business development. The potential of tax revenues is the carrot dangled before the states. With so many states in a pinch or running in the red, why would you not legalize it?
- It would save law enforcement costs. Making marijuana legal means many fewer court cases and incarcerations. States that legalize marijuana would be adding millions to their coffers and subtracting millions from their wasted expenses by imprisoning people for a non-violent, made-up crime of consuming a plant. States lower their law enforcement costs substantially right off the top by removing it from the list of controlled substances.
- It helps address social ills. This is another offshoot of boosted tax revenues from cannabis sales: Colorado put some of the money into a fund to help create housing programs for the homeless and address the state’s opioid epidemic.
More people spoke at the midterms about marijuana, and the momentum for more legalization is strong. More states are seeing that it makes a lot of sense as a new component of the economic engine.
Most importantly for the Federal Government and President Trump to consider is that by not having cannabis legal nationwide, we are allowing Canada and other nations to become the cannabis job boom hubs!
They’ll inevitably attract the best talent and capital, making it so that when the U.S. does go fully legal, our companies and industry will be playing catch-up.
Don’t screw this up, America – it’s just a plant!
Legal Notice: This work is based on SEC filings, current events, interviews, corporate press releases and what we’ve learned as financial journalists. It may contain errors and you shouldn’t make any investment decision based solely on what you read here. It’s your money and your responsibility. The information herein is not intended to be personal legal or investment advice and may not be appropriate or applicable for all readers. If personal advice is needed, the services of a qualified legal, investment or tax professional should be sought.