It’s estimated that the legalization of marijuana (not just for medical purposes) could take as much as $10 billion away from the cartels and dealers. And that’s not limited to the Colombian or Mexican drug trades. Domestically grown marijuana is thought to be the second most profitable cash crop in the United States: only corn is considered to be more lucrative.
To think about the kind of impact that could have on our economy, you need only look to the U.S. beverage alcohol industry. Making alcohol legal again has paid off. Just last year, the industry generated $91 billion in wages and over 3.9 million jobs for U.S. workers. In 2008, alcohol contributed over $40 billion to state and local revenues; nearly half of that came from corporate, personal income, property and other taxes.
State and local governments aren’t stupid. They see those numbers as positives. Take San Jose, for example. According to the Sacramento Bee, taxing legal medical marijuana collectives brought the city $290,000 in the first month the tax was imposed. Annualized, that’s nearly $3.5 million.
At the same time, decriminalizing the use of marijuana could reduce the amount of resources that states and municipalities are now forced to spend on enforcement and incarcerations.