Imagine cannabis was legal across all 50 states, it’s easy if you try, because the political perception of cannabis is changing. 29 states already allow the use of medical cannabis, while California legalized the sale of recreational cannabis on January 1st. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, which have long since legalized the use for medical and recreational cannabis, have USD 1.3 Billion in combined tax revenue. California has begun to invest its own tax revenue in social and medical programs. And a portion of the revenue generated from California’s cannabis tax each year is given to the Youth Education, Prevention, Early Intervention, and Treatment Account – designed to educate children about substance abuse disorders, with the goal of preventing harm to children from substance abuse.
Imagine Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) Marijuana Justice Act was passed in the Senate. Or Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congressman Ro Khanna’s (D-CA) bill to help repair communities most devastated by the war on drugs was passed. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), cannabis arrests are over 50% of all drug arrests in the U.S. Moreover, the data also reveals a consistent trend; African Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis than whites, even with equal usage rates between both groups. The U.S incarcerates close to 800,000 Americans per year for non-violent cannabis violations. The Urban Institute Justice Policy Center (UIJPC) reports that the yearly cost for an inmate in a minimum security prison is USD 21,006 in 2012. With 757,969 individuals incarcerated for cannabis use, at USD 21,006 each, this amounts to USD 15,921,896,814 to keep these individuals imprisoned for one year. This is paid for by you, the taxpayer.
Imagine the U.S was the 3rd country in the world to permit the nationwide cannabis market. The tax revenue could be used to help subsidies Medicare, which according to the National Health Expenditure (NHE), grew 4.3% to USD 3.3 Trillion in 2016, or USD 10,348 per person, and accounted for 17.9% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While, according to New Frontier Data, a data analytics firm focused on the cannabis industry, tax revenue generated from a legalized cannabis would be a combined USD 131.8 Billion in federal tax revenue between 2017 and 2025, in addition to the millions of jobs created.
Imagine New York legalized cannabis. Scott Stringer, New York City Comptroller, believes it would create a USD 3.1 Billion market. Generating USD 435.7 Million in tax revenue for the state of New York, while New York City would generate an estimated USD 336 Million. Colorado, which legalized cannabis in November 2012, reports an average of 20 Million in a month from its 15% sales tax on cannabis.
Some may say that Cory Booker, Ro Khanna, Scott Stringer, and Barbara Lee are dreamers, but I’m sure they are not the only ones.