A study released this week
by research firm GreenWave Advisors forecasts that legalizing weed for medical and recreational pursuits could generate $35 billion by the year 2020. While this would barely leave a dent in the federal deficit, profits at such a looming level remain enticing. States like Washington and Colorado have already shown in statistics the immediate financial benefits of legalizing weed. GreenWave Advisors was able to predictively calculate the abundant $35 billion figure based on the bountiful profits that Washington and Colorado are enjoying in the wake of marijuana legalization.
How Legalizing Weed Already Impacts Economy
It’s estimated that Washington state made close to $180 million from the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in just its first year. Colorado, which has been at it longer than Washington, raked in $305 million in sales in 2014. Other states on the fence about legalizing weed have been carefully watching Colorado and Washington in the wings, deliberating on whether to join the early wave of legalization.
Mass Legalization Requires More Than Just Monetary Gain
Of course, a state’s decision to explore recreational use of marijuana hinges on more than financial matters. State governments are also closely monitoring crime rates and use among minors when mulling over the legalization of recreational cannabis use. With Washington and Colorado both reporting a marked decrease in violent crime, the idea of legalizing weed is becoming more appetizing.
California’s Role in National Legalization
Many eyes have shifted to California, who will cast a vote on legalizing weed in November 2016. Analysts predict that if California goes legal, the remaining states will follow suit. California’s strategic placement between Washington, Oregon (which recently legalized marijuana) and Colorado situates the golden state in a unique position to see high profits in legalizing weed.
The Opposition to Legalizing Weed
Despite the gargantuan fiscal opportunities, organizations still rally against legalization. The Washington-based group Safe Streets Alliance opposes legalizing weed, going so far as to sue Colorado-based shops on grounds of racketeering. One shop has already closed its doors as financial backers pulled out in fear of the lawsuit. Opponents to the legalization of marijuana echo a similar climate that preceded the ending of prohibition.
The Risks and Rewards of Mass Legalization
Upon the release of GreenWave Advisors’ predictions, marketing analysts immediately began to speculate and weigh in on the staggeringly large numbers. Legalizing weed would usher an enormous black market trade that has been operating for years in underground avenues into mainstream consumer culture. Many analysts believe the decriminalization of an already popular black market product would be the primary contributor to the lofty $35 billion sum. From a marketing standpoint, the marijuana industry offers all of the benefits and pitfalls of a new market. Since its still uncertain terrain, legalizing weed could mean big payoffs for investors or it could open the door to risky ventures or even scams.
Legalization across all 50 states may seem like a faraway pipe dream at present. Yet legalizing weed may not be that different than ending alcohol prohibition. With the country calling for economic solutions, it’s hard to imagine anyone leaving $35 billion just sitting on the table.