Weed legalization has been a hot topic for some time now. A majority of the U.S. population supports legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, with 60% saying both should be legal and 31% supporting medical use only.
Over the last few years, many states have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. Massachusetts legalized adult-use marijuana in 2018. Since then, sales have surpassed $3 billion. The state’s cannabis tax revenue now also exceeds that generated by alcohol sales.
State legalization of cannabis often prompts discussions of potential benefits. Let’s take a closer look.
More Control and Safety for Marijuana Products
Massachusetts (and other states with legal marijuana) has stringent testing requirements for legal cannabis products. Everything, from flowers and concentrates to tinctures and edibles, must undergo third-party testing before dispensaries can sell it. While measures vary by state, their strict nature ensures product safety for cannabis users. With a quick look at the label, you can see what’s in any item you purchase.
May Reduce Black Market Sales
Now, there’s a good chance black market cannabis sales won’t disappear entirely. However, widespread legalization and the assurance of safe products for weed users may help deter the purchasing of illicit items.
Weed Legalization Benefits for the Economy
There are several economic benefits of regulating marijuana, including:
State Tax Revenue
Legal cannabis products are subject to state and local taxes. In Massachusetts, there’s a 10.75% excise tax on recreational weed. There’s also a 6.25% state sales tax and a local sales tax rate of up to 3%. Some areas also have a community impact fee. While those taxes may sound like a lot, the tax revenue goes toward state and local improvements, including schools.
Following the legalization of weed, there’s a need for nurseries, manufacturing companies, dispensaries, and other businesses. Those businesses will need employees to help them run properly. There also arises a need for ancillary, non-plant-touching services (financial services, software solutions, construction, etc.). In other words, numerous jobs open up, presenting opportunities for residents in need of work.
The legal cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., and experts predict it will only continue to grow over the next several years. This presents significant opportunities for interested investors. However, those opportunities remain limited as long as cannabis remains federally illegal.
Marijuana enforcement costs billions of dollars annually. One report estimated the national criminal justice expenditures for weed enforcement to be around $7.6 billion (with $3.7 billion going to police). Federal legalization would decrease that amount significantly, freeing up money for other, more beneficial purposes.
Less Incarceration for Nonviolent Crimes
Along with reducing the amount of money spent on enforcement, legalizing weed can lower the number of court cases going to trial. In turn, fewer people would go to jail for nonviolent crimes (which can also help save money). In Massachusetts, people who once participated in the illegal market are even finding a home in the state’s legal cannabis industry.
Will Weed Ever Become Fully Legal?
More and more states are discovering the benefits of weed legalization. While the subject has come up on more than one occasion in the federal government, we still have yet to see any bill make it past the House. For now, we can only speculate if (and when) full legalization may occur.
If you’re a Massachusetts resident or visitor, you can enjoy an array of cannabis products from properly licensed dispensaries. If you’re ever in the capital, Harbor House Collective is the Boston dispensary for safe, legal, high-quality weed. Feel free to stop by and see what we have to offer!