Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
There is a “green wave” sweeping the country. Ballot initiatives in Arizona, New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana are seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Don’t be fooled, the green does not represent marijuana – it represents money. More and more states are legalizing marijuana, not because there has been a massive shift in public sentiment on marijuana use, but because states can raise revenue from marijuana sales.
Ever since Colorado and Washington became the first two states to approve marijuana legalization in 2012, nine states and three territories have joined them including Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, the District of Columbia, the Mariana Islands and Guam. Another 16 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized marijuana and 33 states allow medical marijuana use.
It was not long ago that gambling was illegal everywhere outside of Nevada. Today, you can bet inside some ballparks while games are in progress – try justifying that to Pete Rose or the descendants of Shoeless Joe Jackson. Why? States have made about $1.8 trillion in tax revenue from gambling.
How much tax revenue can marijuana generate?
Legalizing marijuana nationwide would create at least $132 billion in tax revenue and more than a million new jobs across the United States in the next decade, according to a new study by New Frontier Data. The marijuana industry could create an entirely new tax revenue stream for the government, generating millions of dollars in sales tax and payroll deductions.
The analysis shows, according to the Washington Post, that if marijuana were fully legal in all 50 states, it would create at least a combined $131.8 billion in federal tax revenue through 2025.
What is on the ballot for Nov. 3?
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy made a campaign promise to legalize marijuana suggesting