35 states in the country already have legalized medical marijuana laws. President Joe Biden has stated he is in favour of legalization, too. It’s safe to say cannabis legalization is no longer a matter of if but when.
Here are the top five ways federal legalization could help America.
The Economic Impact
Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics report sales of cannabis in the U.S. were $12.2 billion in 2019, and that’s projected to balloon to $31.1 billion by 2024. If cannabis was legal, federal tax revenue could reach the multi-billions. In 2020 alone, California collected almost $500 million in cannabis taxes, and Colorado’s marijuana tax windfall was north of $300 million. This money goes directly back into state programs, meaning schools, law enforcement and healthcare programs.
In addition, if cannabis is legalized federally, hundreds of thousands of lucrative jobs will be created across the entire country. Many of these jobs will not require degrees and can be taught through apprenticeships. This has potential to lift the lower economic class.
The Healthcare Impact
Cannabis expert Joshua Green from cannatech Veriheal explains, “Some evidence shows that states with legalized medical marijuana may have overall lower healthcare costs.”
This 2016 study revealed that Medicare recipients in states where medical marijuana was legalized use prescription medications less than in states where cannabis is illegal.
This could be linked to America’s rampant opioid crisis. Research including this long-term study revealed cannabis usage could significantly cut opioid use and overdoses. Research conducted at the University of Georgia found areas with marijuana dispensaries had a reduced number of opioid overdoses.
“Federal legalization would also open us up for more clinical research. We all see cannabis helps, but we need more research to really understand how,” says Green. His company Veriheal helps connect medical marijuana patients with cannabis doctors and in-depth cannabis education.
In addition, as we learn more about how medical marijuana aids health, federal legalization can pave a road for health insurance providers to start covering medical marijuana even on a basic level.
The Financial Industries Impact
The banking industry and stock market have both been held at bay in a sort of limbo due to the lack of federal legalization. Right now there is a very limited number of public cannabis stocks outside of penny stocks. With so much money on the table, there is a huge opportunity for the stock market to get more involved in the cannabis industry.
The banking industry has been scared to work with cannabis businesses for decades, which is a shame, because it has left so many small businesses out in the cold and lost billions in tax revenue. If they work together, U.S. cannabis money laundering will start to fall and the real cannabis financials will begin to be reported, thus increasing tax revenue.
The Crime Impact
Not only will legalizing cannabis help bring a lot of the illegal sales of cannabis above board, but it will also cut down on dangerous smuggling and money laundering rings. Legalized cannabis will also allow law enforcement to allocate resources to more dangerous addictive drugs like the rampant heroin epidemic.
Legalization is a big step towards repairing the rift the “War on Cannabis” created between police and People of Colour in America. Cannabis has historically been used to serve harsh punishments and prison sentences, especially to minority communities. Federal legalization opens a road to exonerate many of those police brutality victims.
The Small Businesses Impact
Cannabis is starting to be taken over by just a handful of large companies. The longer we go without federal legalization, the deeper the foothold big business has while small businesses are purposely kept out of the game. At this point, the government is too far into the cannabis industry. Federal legalization will allow united laws for cannabis business owners too and will stop state laws, which purposely have very strict rules and limited business licenses going only to big businesses.
“This is a dangerous risk of creating oligopolies,” explains Green. He felt the resistance in helping small businesses when launching Veriheal.
Federally legalizing cannabis, similar to alcohol, would allow more small businesses like independent farmers to begin growing the lucrative cannabis crop and better themselves and their communities.
“Legalization could help revamp small-town America as a whole, taking some of the pressure off bigger cities, which have become so overpopulated that it’s causing gentrification displacement and homelessness at alarming rates,” adds Green. He sees the data coming through Veriheal, so he knows the demand is in small-town American too.