Cities, states, and nations across the globe have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In 2012 Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use. Eight states and the District of Columbia now have laws that allow for the recreational use of marijuana. The legalization of recreational marijuana has numerous upsides for society.
Legalization will reduce crime rates, save taxpayer money, and create an overall improved for individuals and communities.
Recreational marijuana would increase the government’s revenue substantially. According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) as of 2016, Washington levies a 37% excise retail tax in addition to an optional local sales tax that must be between 0.5%-3.1% on marijuana. Per ITEP, in 2017 the state of Washington collected $314 million in excise tax on marijuana.
In the first three months of 2018, they have already collected $120 million dollars in excise tax on marijuana. This is a substantial increase in the state’s revenue, which can be used to cover many different state costs. For example, in Washington, the 2017-2019 budget grants $7.5 million to the public-school system, kindergarten through grade 12, per the Washington State Fiscal report. In addition to the increased revenue, there will be less money allotted to handling crime related to marijuana. The revenue generated from marijuana would be more than enough to increase the budget for public schools and grant money to other important areas of government spending.
The legalization of recreational marijuana will also reduce crime rates. This can be seen in Denver, Co. where following the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012 all crime decreased by 6.9% in the first year, per the article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice by George Gruia. In particular with the legalization of recreational marijuana violent crimes decrease. 5.9% of the 6.9% decrease in crime was a decrease in violent crimes. Thus, creating a safer community for individuals.
The largest impediment to the legalization of recreational marijuana is how it is viewed. Many people across the nation, in particular the older generation, view marijuana as an addictive drug that will lead to a more severe drug addiction. However, as of Mar. 2, 2016, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program removed marijuana from its gateway drug list. That list consists of prescription drugs, heroin, meth, cocaine and many others.
Marijuana is not the same. An overdose can not occur from marijuana like it can from a drug like heroin, or even alcohol. It is more likely to overdose on a substance that has been widely legalized then it is to overdose on marijuana. Also, some opponents of legalization of argued that it would increase the use of marijuana. However, data from the Drug Enforcement Administration and a National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that in states where recreational marijuana is legal the usage did not increase upon legalization.
Recreational marijuana will serve as one of many landmarks that sparked a new era of economic and sociologic rehabilitation in this country’s great history.