Marijuana and money!

Morgan Levy, Contributing Writer

Due to its increasing rate of legalization across the United States, the subject of marijuana has again returned to the forefront of national consciousness. As of July 2021, 18 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have legalized the use of marijuana, or weed, for recreational purposes. Various other states have taken similar initiative by legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, and many more are projected to join these 18 states in making weed completely legal just like alcohol. When we think about the debate around legalizing marijuana, one typically regards the health and safety precautions associated with the drug along with its impairing effects. But let’s look at weed from a whole other lens – an economic lens.

Indeed, another consequence of mounting legalization efforts is a burgeoning marijuana industry. Based on the observable economic benefits exhibited in only some of the states, the revenue that can be generated if the United States were to fully legalize weed is quite incredible. Increased tax revenues, job growth and investment opportunities are all positives of the legalization movement when we adopt an economic perspective.

In 2019, recreational and medicinal marijuana sales in the United States totaled about 12 billion dollars. This number is projected to increase to about 31 billion by 2024, according to analyses by Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. Talk about blazing sales! Not only is money funneled into the industry from buying weed itself, but also from the purchase of smoking accessories. Whether it be a bong, pen, edibles, rolling papers, or gum to defeat cottonmouth, there are numerous products that can enter the market alongside marijuana that can easily generate significant sales profit.

Another economic viewpoint to consider is labor. The backbone of the industry and creating quality cannabis is the people who work in the dispensaries and nurseries. Marijuana production is an art form, as workers tend to the plants and create unique strands and extract valuable oils. A report by the New Frontier predicts that federally legal marijuana nationwide legalization could generate at least 1 million jobs by 2025. So the next time your parents tell you that you’ll never get a job if you use marijuana, hit them with that statistic and prove them wrong!

Our nation is taking swift action to embrace legalization, but we are not quite there. To be blunt, I believe lawmakers are negligent to embrace legalization due to having a fear of drastic change. But, change isn’t always so bad. Especially when the change can generate adequate investment opportunities, employment and profit. Wake up America! (or should I say wake and bake.) Let’s get our economy high.

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