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America is more divided than ever before, though there is one matter about which we all seem to agree: Marijuana laws have to be reform. States across the board seem to be ready and willing to legalize marijuana, or at the very least, to decriminalize it. Even groups in the media you wouldn’t expect are on board. Of course, organizations like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are pressing for marijuana laws to change, but did you know that so is the Economist, a solidly conservative publication?

Marijuana legalization seems poised to one day sweep the nation, and why not? There is a myriad of reasons for its legalization: stopping the moral panic over drugs, lessening crime rates and our overall prison population and challenging the racist marijuana policy. But among all these practical reasons, one may seem like to cry out louder than the rest: legalizing marijuana would provide the United States billions of dollars, giving our country’s economy a much-required boost. Marijuana legalization would also substantially enhance state coffers, local communities, not to mention it would save regional and state governments large amounts of money in misused law enforcement dollars.

The most apparent economic factor of the case for marijuana legalization lies in tax revenues. After all, the annual trade of marijuana is now estimated to be at $113 billion, which is about $45 billion in taxes. Tax authorities are in fact missing out on municipal, state and federal taxes which could finance a broad variety of resources. The money could even be well allocated on support plans for hard drug users, given the existing incarceration rate. Also, if taking marijuana out of the black market and delivering it into the public light also supplies clear savings for the government on top of net tax gains, in addition to ensuring a safe and controlled product. The drug war is notorious for costing the U.S. government a remarkable sum and while these projects incorporate a vast range of Schedule I drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and meth, among others), spending to enforce the law for those illegal substances would remarkably reduce without marijuana.

Through legislation, many other aspects of debt and spending would also decline if marijuana laws were to change– first among them being prison expenses. Statistically, an approximated one in four people is in jail because of a non-violent drug offense. This involves the possession, sale, and repeat offense related to marijuana. Marijuana-related busts make up a massive portion of law enforcement actions involving drugs.

Cutting down on the number of people jailed for a related offense also has secondary economic conveniences, by keeping people in their own communities. Widespread poverty can be directly linked to broken communities, such as those that have been torn apart by the drug war. Allowing people to remain with their family members, economically get involved in their communities and add to society enhances not only their own economic situation but the community’s as well.

Economically, the legalization of marijuana would certainly create a ripple effect through related industries. Cultivation, farmers, farmworkers, fertilizer firms, and various other manufacturers of agricultural products all stand to benefit. In addition, given the vast power requirements related with indoor growing, it’s possible that the potential boom in marijuana cultivation could also enhance the alternative energy industry– particularly as consumers push for organic and ethically produced marijuana. In addition, a boost in open cultivation would minimize illegal farming, fertilizer pollution, and similar concerns, which is intrinsically better for the natural environment. Without the need to employ crews to manage expanding operations, such marijuana producers could spend their funds more productively.

It appears to be somewhat counteractive that a nation that loves to tout free market capitalism would be so sluggish to legalize marijuana. The web of morals and intoxicants doesn’t appear to possess an effect on the legalization of tobacco and alcohol, whose business parts continue being totally controlled and remarkably rewarding. There is some light peeking through the clouds of pretension, nonetheless, with Washington D.C., Oregon and Alaska now in the process of marijuana legalization. And even though the legalization move was shot down in Florida, it was only a bit of a hindrance. It seems that at this direction, these states will join the ranks of Washington and Colorado, who have in fact completely legalized marijuana.

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