According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number one issue for voters in 2016, was the economy. Many have their own opinions and solutions on the subject of how to improve the economy, some more valid than others. One solution that would be difficult to dispute is the legalization of  recreational marijuana. By simply looking at the states that they have been legalized in, one can see a positive outcome is guaranteed.

Colorado’s legal marijuana industry has been credited with an economic impact of almost $2.4 billion in 2015. In the same year it was responsible for the creation of over 18,000 full time jobs. The more recent numbers are even more encouraging, April of 2017 was the 11th consecutive month the state of Colorado had seen sales for cannabis top $100 million. The month of March saw record numbers of almost $132 million. Medicinal and recreational marijuana use has become such an impactful part of Colorado’s economy that it is more than 90 percent of the industries active in the state. There is also strong evidence to prove that Washington state has benefited from the legalization of marijuana as well. A study from the  Drug Policy Alliance indicated that a year after Washington legalized marijuana the state saw a staggering 98% decrease in court filings for low level marijuana offenses by adults 21 years of age or older. From 2000 to 2010 Washington spent more than $200 million for cannabis enforcement. With the legalization of it the state has saved millions annually by making the intelligent choice to no longer arrest and prosecute low level marijuana offenses. From July 2014, when the first retail stores opened, to July 2015, the state generated an excess of $80 million in tax revenue which does not include the revenue the state also received  from licenses and fees.

More states have or are taking initiative to approve the use of recreational weed and it is very evident as to why. With reasonable guidelines in place, the positives far outweigh the negatives if there are any at all. Many who are critical of marijuana legalization have no reason for their concern. There is little to no evidence to show that the legalization of weed have led to higher violent crime rates or led to an increased use of marijuana for individuals under the age of 21. The negative connotation that some have towards weed use is silly and unwarranted. Marijuana use has had a very positive effect on the economy and should continue for many years to come. A cannabis market research and analytics firm by the name of New Frontier Data has projected by 2020 the industry will create more than 250,000 jobs. It is also projected that the weed industry will generate more than $24 billion by 2025. While other industries are expected to decline in the coming years, this industry is looking as strong as ever. The states of Colorado and Washington have already reaped the economic benefits of legal marijuana and it’s time that other states join the party.

Photo taken by : Jennifer Martin