The Effects of the Legalization of Marijuana on the Economy
Marijuana, weed, pot, Mary Jane, anyway you put it; cannabis has been a very controversial topic for many years. Cannabis, the technical term for marijuana, is a preparation of the cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug and as medicine. Marijuana is known to heightened mood or euphoria, help with relaxation, and increase a person’s appetite. The bad side effects of using marijuana are dry mouth, red eyes, a decrease in short-term memory, and impaired motor skills. Due to the bad side effects of marijuana, the issue of making it legalized has been an on going debate for over a decade. With the struggling economy, the legalization of marijuana in many states has become very realistic and most likely to happen in the near future. However, there are also many people who still believe that legalizing marijuana is not the answer to our problems and, if anything, will worsen our country as a whole. 20 US states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing some degree of medical use of marijuana, and 14 states have taken steps to decriminalize it to some degree. Also, two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized marijuana completely.
From 1996 until 2011, 14 states had passed medical marijuana laws, these states are as listed: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. However, each state has it’s own laws about how much marijuana a person can possess and grow at one time. At this time, a survey was done to see how many people would be okay with marijuana being legalized in the United States. The dependent variable of the study was the 14 states that have legalized marijuana. The independent variable involved the percentage of the population over 65, the percentage that have at least a bachelors degree, the state per capita income in 2008, the percentage of the state’s population that lives in urbanized areas, and the percentage of the population that voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election. There is an inverse relationship between states that have medical marijuana laws and variables such as economic freedom and the percentage of people who attend church services.
In 2010, a more intensified study was done on California and Michigan. Mark Binelli traveled to the Emerald Triangle in Northern California to take a look at the growing situation in areas that marijuana was legal. What he found was an area where you phone stops working, strange people would try to sell you crabs, and very far back in the mountains, a man who grows marijuana for a living, Vic Tobias. Tobias had 45 marijuana plants in full bloom, so Binelli was able to experience the entire process of going from a cannabis plant to being marijuana. The plants would be sold off to medical-marijuana dispensaries or to street dealers. There were around 1,000 storefront pot clubs in Los Angeles at the time, making the marijuana business a very profitable one. California’s annual marijuana crop was estimated to be worth around $14 billion. Binelli also mentions that a Harvard economist estimated that legalizing pot could save the government around $13 billion annually in prohibition costs. It would also raise $7 billion in annual revenues if marijuana were to be taxed. It was these statstics that lead Binelli to the Emerald triangle. The only downside he found when visiting Tobias was that many current growers would have a more difficult time because there would be much more competition. He also talks briefly about “the first Michigan-based medical-marijuana trade school.” Since the law passed with a vote of 63% yes for legalizing medical marijuana in 2008, people found the easiest way to make money was by growing and selling marijuana. The economy may have been in a bad place, but “many residents see pot farming as one of the few growth...
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