Federal legalization of weed could generate $73.7 billion, create millions of jobs and save $38 billion in prohibition costs

Federal legalization of weed could generate $73.7 billion, create millions of jobs and save $38 billion in prohibition costs

If cannabis science doesn't resonate, maybe these numbers will

VicesOctober 12, 2020 By Will Brendza

There are plenty of good reasons to legalize weed: It’s a potent medicine that can treat a huge variety of health ailments, it’s non-addictive, you can’t die from an overs-dose, it makes food taste better, makes smells smell better, sex feel better and music sound waaaaayyyy cooler, man.

Still, there are over a million Americans and a lot of politicians in this country who aren’t convinced. Those reasons, legitimate and numerous as they might be, aren’t enough to justify legalizing such a degenerate substance. It goes against conservative moral values. The quality of life in America wouldn’t get any better just because people could legally get high anywhere they pleased…

Except, that it would. Not only because this medicine would help so many people with health issues and ailments, but also because it would save billions of dollars in federal spending, create billions more in tax revenue and generate tens of thousands of jobs across the US. All told, the federal legalization of cannabis could be worth over $112 billion and create 1.63 million jobs annually by the year 2025 according to a new report titled, Cannabis in the U.S. Economy: Jobs, Growth & Tax Revenue.  

That report, by the data analysis firm New Frontier, predicts that a flat 15% federal tax on cannabis could generate as much as $73.7 billion for the treasury over the next five years. A figure that seems more than achievable, considering Colorado alone made over $1 billion in state taxes from cannabis sales just in 2019.

On top of that, federally legalizing cannabis would allow businesses to open up in new frontiers, in states that had previously been off-limits to them. Which would open up tens of thousands of jobs across the US. In 2019 the cannabis industry created some 84,000 jobs in legal states and according to New Frontier’s data analysis, Federal legalization would raise that number to 1.46 million annually (as many as 1.63 million annually by 2025).

And of course, if cannabis was federally legalized, the DEA and local law enforcement agencies wouldn’t have to enforce the prohibition of it any longer. That would save the Feds some $7.7 billion annually (according to a 2012 article written by Harvard economist Jeffry Miron). Assuming that number is still the same eight years later, the Feds stand to save $38.5 billion in enforcement costs over the next five years.

That, added to the amount of tax money they stand to generate through the federal legalization comes out to about $122 billion by 2025 — or a net gain of $24.4 billion every year.

So, for those who aren’t convinced by the medical, recreational and/or scientific arguments for legalizing cannabis, perhaps the economic incentives will resonate more powerfully. There is a lot of money to be made and saved when it comes to legalizing cannabis. An added $24.4 billion every year could vastly improve the quality of life for Americans — whether they use cannabis or not, and whether or not they believe in its power as a medicine.