Our View: The cannabis marketplace will spark up the mitten state’s economy

After the passing of Proposal 1 during the 2018 midterm election, the state of Michigan officially legalized the recreational use of cannabis. This is groundbreaking, as Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to do so. Recreational cannabis dispensaries are expected to begin sales officially in early 2020. We believe that this is good for Michigan.

Even though the election was several months ago, it is still too soon to see the effects that this has had on Michigan citizens. To really see the benefits it will have, we have to look at the other states that have legalized cannabis in the marketplace.

States that have passed the legalization of cannabis have made large financial gains due to the increased tax revenue. According to data collected by the Oregon Department of Revenue, Research Section, tax revenue from February 2016 amounted to $2.5 million. In three years, the revenue gathered every month has almost quadrupled. It now rests at $8.1 million statewide.

Over the course of three years, the state of Oregon has accumulated almost $200 million in tax revenue from its legalized cannabis marketplace. This is a large amount of money that is being pumped into the state’s economy. We believe that Michigan stands to greatly benefit financially since it contains double the population of Oregon.

With the money flowing into the state directly, it is being taken away from the black market, used to rebuild infrastructure and increase the budget for public schools and police. The police can focus on violent crimes with this extra funding, rather than the possession of a nearly harmless substance.

Speaking of crime, legalization has been shown to reduce the amount of cannabis affiliated crimes in the states that chose to enact this legislation. According to stats found on DrugPolicy.org, in Washington “… the number of marijuana-related convictions in the state decreased by 81% between 2011 and 2014.”

The site also points out that “A single arrest and prosecution for the possession of marijuana cost [Washington] an estimated $1,000 to $2,000 in police, prosecutor, defense attorney and court expenses. In fact, the state spent over $200 million on marijuana enforcement between 2000 and 2010.” With legalization, not only are cannabis related crimes down substantially, but so much time and money is being saved by not wasting the resources on this non-violent crime.

The lows do not outweigh the highs. We believe that Michigan will adapt to the drug testing situation. By investing some of the revenue into development research for a breathalyzer-like THC testing device we can overcome this hurdle.

A lot could be gained by regulating cannabis similarly to how we regulate alcohol. With all of the new tax revenue being collected, new jobs will be created and money will not being wasted in the legal system. It is nothing but good for the economy. Plus, a low level offense will no longer ruin the lives of thousands of Michiganders every year. We are burnt out on cannabis being mischaracterized as harmful when it will light up our economy.

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