Federal cannabis prohibition started in the United States in 1937. Cannabis is still prohibited at the federal level, but a number of states have voted to end prohibition. Colorado and Washington were the first to do so in 2012. Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. followed in 2014, and 2016 saw California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts join the list of legal states. Michigan is hopefully on its way in 2018, along with one or more other states that may end cannabis prohibition via legislative action.
Leading up to successful legalization votes in current legal states cannabis opponents made many wild claims that time has since proven to be false. A lot of those same claims are being made by league officials in an attempt to keep prohibition in place in professional sports. The sky has not fallen over legal states. In fact, things are going quite well by many measures. Part of being an effective cannabis advocate both inside and outside of the sports world is being armed with the facts. Below are four facts that prove that legalization is working, and that the Uncle Cliffy team strongly believes everyone should be familiar with.
Falling teen use
One of the most frequently made claims by cannabis opponents about legalization is that a massive spike in teen use would follow implementation. Opponents have long went to the ‘what about the children’ argument early and often. The Uncle Cliffy team does not support kids using cannabis, and has always made it clear that we believe that cannabis should only be used by adults 21 and over (with exceptions for medical use). This does not mean that the Uncle Cliffy team believes that prohibition is the best way to prevent America’s youth from using cannabis.
What the Uncle Cliffy team does believe in is legalization and regulation which requires cannabis retailers to check people’s IDs before a transaction. The unregulated market has no age limit, and regulating cannabis is the best way to help ensure that America’s youth cannot access cannabis. Math is proving cannabis advocates to be right, and opponents to be wrong. According to the federal government’s own data, teen cannabis use in America is at a 20 year low. With 8 states and Washington D.C. having legalized cannabis for adult use, and 29 states having passed comprehensive medical cannabis reforms, not only is there not a spike in teen use, the overall usage rate among America’s youth is at a twenty year low. That is a fact that is worth repeating over and over.
The spread of legalization has resulted in the cannabis industry expanding at a dramatic rate. The expansion of the industry has been paralleled by a boom in job creation. In June Marijuana Business Daily published a report which estimated that the cannabis industry had created as many as 230,000 full and part-time jobs. The jobs pay a fair wage, and the positions were essentially created out of thin air. To put that number into perspective, the cannabis industry now employs more people than the massage therapist industry and the baking industry. There are now more cannabis workers than there are dental hygienists in America, and the industry is creating more jobs every day.
One way that cannabis legalization benefits everyone is via tax revenues. In an unregulated cannabis market, no tax revenues are generated. But in a legal and regulated cannabis system, cannabis sales generate tax revenue. According to New Frontier Data, states with legal cannabis sales are expected to generate approximately $655 million in state taxes on retail sales in 2017. That number is obviously going to increase in the future. The taxes are going to go to many things that would otherwise go unfunded. In towns like Huntington, Oregon, which is home to legal cannabis sales, the tax revenue is expected to double the town’s budget, which is obviously significant.
Saved money from not enforcing prohibition
Enforcing cannabis prohibition, which is a failed public policy, is expensive. According to Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer at Harvard University, cannabis prohibition cost the United States $20 billion dollars annually as of 2013. Paying to fine and/or arrest and/or prosecute and/or incarcerate people for cannabis adds up quick. All of that money is wasted given that cannabis is safer than alcohol and many other substances that are perfectly legal. Fortunately since Mr. Miron’s study, 8 states and Washington D.C. have voted to legalize cannabis for adult use, which is hopefully taking a significant chunk out of the $20 billion figure that Jeffrey Miron’s research arrived at. All of the money saved from not enforcing failed prohibition is now going to much more worthy things in legal states, which would also be true in any other state that ended cannabis prohibition within its borders. Government resources are limited. They should be going towards fighting real crime, towards schools, and towards improving America’s infrastructure, not enforcing harmful cannabis prohibition.