The legalization of marijuana has been a subject of competition and confusion for either side of the talk.
The federal authorities nonetheless deems it unlawful. However marijuana has been legalized for leisure use in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and an extra 21 broadly legalize medical marijuana.
Researchers like myself lastly have some information to evaluate claims made on either side. Let’s take a more in-depth have a look at three main arguments round marijuana legalization – and the way the statistics stack up in opposition to them.
How a lot cash will states earn from marijuana taxes?
One of many greatest pro-legalization arguments was that states would have the ability to usher in a brand new supply of tax income.
Colorado, for instance, imposes a 15% excise tax from cultivator to retailer and an extra 15% gross sales tax on the top buyer.
In 2018, Colorado authorized pot gross sales topped US$1.2 billion, with the state pulling in about $270 million in taxes. Evaluate that to the roughly $45 million that the state collected in tax on alcohol that very same yr.
A research from Georgia State College discovered that alcohol gross sales fell by 15% in states the place solely medical marijuana had been legalized and by 20% in counties the place leisure marijuana is offered legally. Nonetheless, the states made greater than sufficient again from marijuana gross sales, since marijuana taxes are usually higher than alcohol taxes.
Different states are reaping the advantages of marijuana taxes as nicely. California pulled in $345 million in 2018 and Washington $376 million. New Frontier Knowledge, a hashish information web site, predicts the legalized hashish market will develop to US$25 billion by 2025.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of questions on how a lot tax income states will really earn, particularly contemplating that some states have missed their projections by a protracted shot.
For instance, the governor of California predicted a a lot bigger $643 million in income. In the meantime, projections for Washington prompt that the state would earn solely $160 million.
Whereas projections for different varieties of items are usually extra dependable, that is a wholly new market and due to this fact vulnerable to error. Why? Nicely, the jury continues to be out. Some researchers and pundits have guessed that in California taxes are too excessive, that the black market is just too sturdy or that the crimson tape of forms is simply an excessive amount of.
Regardless, it’s clear that marijuana tax income has elevated yr over yr for each state that has legalized leisure marijuana. Whereas naysayers are touting California’s missed projections, Colorado, whereas struggling to fulfill its projections within the first three years after legalization, finally exceeded its projection.
Is legalized marijuana hurting youth?
A well-trodden argument in opposition to legalization is that it may lead youth to make use of it extra. For instance, anti-drug group DARE has blamed marijuana for an increase at school suspensions and youth suicide, amongst different issues.
Right here is the issue: Researchers merely don’t have sufficient information but.
Research have proven that youth marijuana use really decreases in states the place medical marijuana has been legalized. Researchers guess that this can be attributable to youngsters viewing marijuana as medicinal as an alternative of leisure.
Whereas different research have prompt that legalizing marijuana can result in elevated use, this might merely be reporting bias. In different phrases, whether it is legalized, individuals are extra keen to be sincere about use.
Different research present fairly the other. For instance, Colorado teenagers had a statistically vital drop in marijuana use over the previous three years since leisure legalization.
Whereas there are sturdy indicators that the legalization of leisure marijuana results in decreased use in youth, solely time will give the ultimate verdict.
Does marijuana improve crime?
Many who’re in opposition to authorized marijuana declare that it may result in a rise in violent crime.
Even in Colorado final yr, there have been rumblings from Gov. Hickenlooper about banning marijuana, since crime in Colorado has been rising since 2014, the identical yr marijuana was legalized.
There’s actually little question that states which permit medical marijuana present completely no improve of their violent and nonviolent crime statistics. In actual fact, crime would possibly really lower.
Nonetheless, crime has elevated in most of the cities the place leisure marijuana is authorized. Homicides in Seattle, D.C. and Denver – all main cities with authorized marijuana – have elevated over the previous few years. However homicides have additionally elevated in cities with out leisure marijuana, resembling Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans and Kansas Metropolis.
A murder improve over 4 years alone in cities the place marijuana is legalized reveals completely nothing. It is a basic case for the statistical saying “correlation doesn’t essentially imply causation.” Take California, for example. Murders in Oakland are down, however murders in Fresno are up. How can that be leisure marijuana’s fault?
Nonetheless, legalized marijuana does appear to affect the justice system. Based on FBI crime information, in 2017, there have been 659,000 marijuana arrests within the U.S. There have been additionally 1.2 million violent crimes with victims, however solely 518,617 arrests for these similar violent crimes. Which means there are greater than 700,000 victims who’ve suffered with out justice.
In states with legalized leisure marijuana, police now now not spend time on marijuana arrests and might spend extra time on fixing a lot of these crime. FBI information from Colorado and Washington present that crime clearance charges – the variety of occasions that the police solved a criminal offense – elevated for each violent and property crimes after legalization.
Whereas there are nonetheless many unknowns surrounding the legalization of leisure marijuana, I consider that this reveals that it is going to be a constructive affect.