The state of Colorado is currently reaping profound tax benefits from the combination of recreational and medicinal marijuana use. Although reports vary on the exact totals associated with the marijuana tax, it’s safe to say that this state has a $50-75 MILLION cushion on which to balance their budget, all thanks to weed. Imagine that much extra money flowing in annually.
According to State Budget Solutions, if each state were to capitalize on the tax benefits of weed, many would be able to completely pay off their reported debt in just one year alone. Even states with the highest amount of debt could potentially pay off their debts in as little as 5-7 years thanks to a marijuana tax. Obviously, these estimations are all very circumstantial and would depend on the use in each state, but clearly, these numbers indicate that marijuana offers a significant potential for state and federal governments to make a dent in their seemingly endless debts.
Another alarming cost that simply cannot go unnoticed is the amount of money necessary to patrol, address, and monitor illegal marijuana use. According to the Huffington Post, approximately $3.6 BILLION was spent in 2010 alone (on a national level) to enforcing the current laws that prohibit the use of marijuana or the possession of marijuana related accessories. Just to break that number down a bit more, the cost of housing an inmate on marijuana charges averages to $95 per day. The arrest alone is estimated at roughly $750 considering the number of personnel, equipment, supplies, and time involved.
If law enforcement could reduce their burdens (both financially and physically speaking) and the states could increase tax revenues by such drastic figures, the choice to legalize marijuana just seems so obvious. At what point will our citizens and officials realize that there is a pile of money sitting right at their feet? In plain sight. Just waiting to be picked up.