America didn’t just vote for its next President , some states also voted because of the fate of marijuana laws. Taking a leaf out of Colorado or Washington’s book, four states—California,Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine decided to make marijuana consumption for recreational purposes Legal . Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota voted to allow medical marijuana while Arizona kicked against that move. The economic advantages of legalizing marijuana could mean a big push for state economies and a lot of money for both the state and the federal governments.
Huge sales of marijuana in Colorado and Washington over the past year have resulted in buoyant tax revenues. In 2015 alone, medical and recreational marijuana sales in Colorado totaled over $996 million dollars and the state collected more than $135 million in revenues through taxes and fees.
California, which is bigger in surface area and population than Colorado, could exceed $15 billion in sales revenue and $3 billion in tax revenue, according to an April 2016 study by ICF International. A special senate committee in Massachusetts estimated tax revenues from marijuana sales in the range of $50-60 million.
Income and Job Creation
Creating marijuana nurseries and dispensaries would be the first step for the states that voted in favor of medical marijuana. These would not only create jobs but also commence economic activity in the marijuana industry in these locations .
In case of areas like Colorado and Nevada where such infrastructure already exists, the economic benefit is more quantifiable as the sector matures.
A R.C.G Economics and Marijuana Policy Group study on Nevada says that legalizing recreational marijuana in the state could support over 41,000 jobs till 2026 and generate over $1.7 billion in labor income.
The ICF study estimates at least 81,000 additional direct, indirect and induced jobs in California as a result of legalized marijuana sales. It also projects an increase in total labor income by at least $3.5 billion.
Some proponents suggest that legalizing marijuana tends to reduce violent crimes and therefore also reduces the costs for law enforcement, but there is no conclusive evidence to prove that. From a business perspective, if the weed industry is suddenly opened up and both businesses and investors rush, crowding could perhaps dent some of the revenue numbers stated above.
But that is for later. The vote has opened a big economic avenue for businesses and states to explore. The initial impact at this point seems only positive.