This post originally appeared on The Green Fund — Australia’s preeminent source of cannabis information.
When we look at depictions of cannabis in films and media, we often think of disheveled, disorganized and demotivated people who manage to get themselves into chaotic circumstances. There’s Cheech and Chong, Saul Silver, Harold and Kumar…You get the picture. Rarely do we see cannabis films where the protagonist is productive, financially savvy and entrepreneurial.
However, when we look at the statistics surrounding cannabis legalization, perhaps the age-old lazy stoner archetype isn’t as accurate as we once thought. Turns out, in places where cannabis is made legal, we don’t see a spike in welfare dependency in that state or country, but rather the opposite. For this reason, we bring you three reasons why legalizing cannabis is good for the economy.
1. Cannabis Is a Job Creator
During his presidency, Barack Obama was asked by an audience member whether he’d consider legalizing cannabis in order to boost the economy. In response, Obama laughed and said “No, I don’t think [legalizing pot] is a good strategy to grow our economy.”
Well, as they say, hindsight is 20/20, and we can now definitively say that the 44th President of the United States was wrong on this front. Cannabis legalization has been a massive boon to the states and countries which have enacted it, with Forbes calling it a “huge job creator” and CNBC saying that the marijuana industry is the “fastest-growing job market in the country.”
You see, cannabis jobs aren’t simply plant-touching (jobs which directly involve working with the plant.) Yes, there are jobs in cultivation, as there are in selling the plant itself. But there’s also the ancillary jobs in areas such as hydroponic technology, smoking equipment like vaporizers, dabbing rigs, bongs and papers, accounting, cannabis consulting…the list goes on.
In fact, the global cannabis industry is set to grow so large that Grand View Research predicts the market will reach USD 66.3 billion by the end of 2025.
So next time you hear someone tell a stoner to “Get a job!”, chances are, they probably have one.
2. Cannabis Generates LOTS of Tax Revenue
With jobs, and profit, comes taxes — and given the aforementioned jobs that the cannabis industry generates, you can bet there’s also a lot of tax revenue being generated by cannabis too.
Whether you love or hate cannabis, there’s no denying that the taxes generated from the cannabis industry can be used to fund important aspects of society. In Colorado’s case, the State government started the ‘Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.’
The fund is to be used on more than 60 programs and grants which target a range of issues facing the broader community, such as mental health, education, and the environment. Because Colorado was a first-mover when it came to cannabis legalization, the State has already reaped over $1bn in total tax revenues from cannabis and is likely going to receive even more in the coming years.
Of the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund’s budget, 16.4% has gone to education initiatives since retail sales were legalized, and 12.5% has been spent on Charter schools through the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program.
Legalizing cannabis not only creates jobs in an economy but it shines a light onto the black market and moves the illegal sales into the legal market, bringing revenue to governments instead of illegal dealers.
3. Legalizing Cannabis Lowers The Use Of Other Drugs
An important factor when considering cannabis legalization is that not all drugs are equal. Different drugs have different effects and different levels of safety.
This is an important fact to bear in mind because the data shows that when cannabis is legalized, the use of other drugs actually decreases. For example, in states where marijuana is legal, opioid prescriptions go down.
According to a study based on survey data from 2897 medical cannabis patients, patients overwhelmingly reported that cannabis provided equal relief to their other medications, but without the unwanted side effects. Ninety-seven percent of the sample also “strongly agreed/agreed” that they are able to decrease the number of opiates they consume when they also use cannabis.
Furthermore, when cannabis is made legal for either medicinal or recreational consumption, alcohol use can decrease between 15–20% respectively.
Now, you may say “well, what’s the difference? You’re just substituting one drug for another,” and in a sense, you’re right.
However, it’s estimated that detrimental alcohol use costs the U.S. over $223 billion annually, and each year, roughly 42,000 lose their lives in the United States from opioid misuse/overdose.
While cannabis legalization remains very much in a state of infancy, it’s highly unlikely that the negative side effects of cannabis use would equate to even a shred of the harms brought upon the nation by opioids and alcohol — And the case for the safety of cannabis only increases if we begin to look at Cannabidiol (CBD) as a substitute for harsher substances. In fact, as we’ve covered previously, CBD is already showing great potential in weening people off of these harsher drugs and onto a non-psychoactive, non-addictive and non-harmful cannabinoid compound.