I, as well as many other pro-cannabis activists, hope that legalization of marijuana will become a “plague” that will spread throughout the USA. The global legalization of marijuana may be a dream, but we all hope that it will happen in western countries. The benefits it might bring are numerous, and the USA may see billions of dollars in revenue from marijuana taxes.
The future where everyone is free to buy marijuana and use it for recreational purposes isn’t as near as we all hope. Results from Washington, and other states that legalized marijuana are excellent, and they show high revenue as well as a decrease in the investment toward marijuana laws enforcement. But the number of skeptics is still significant, and they will try anything to stop legalization from spreading throughout the states.
A good example of this might be the recent court hearing that was triggered by several states that border Washington. They went to Supreme Court with a plea to overthrow the legalization that happened in Washington because some of the pot ends up in their territory. The Supreme Court stated that they have no power over the state as the Congress can’t force a state to change its laws. This was expected, and it brought to light a strange situation that sees the clash of legislation. The use of marijuana is legal in Washington under its state laws, but it is illegal on the federal level.
The previous example shows the lack of will to legalize the pot on the national level. Some more conservative states also present the problem, and they fight against legalization by making arguments by the existence of a black market in states that did legalize it.
Black markets still exist, and their existence will continue as long as the marijuana tax is too high. I think that people will buy weed illegally as long as the price of legal marijuana is more than double the amount of the illegal. States must lower the tax and bring the price of weed down, closer to the level of illegally sold cannabis. People will buy legally distributed marijuana only when states reduce the tax and make the weed affordable.
Washington is among only several states in the USA that legalized the marijuana for recreational use. Marijuana is commonly purchased at a rec store that offers a variety of products. That was a brave and a smart move, and many believe that their experience will cause widespread legalization of cannabis. All states that consider legalization of the marijuana look at Washington and the changes they experienced in last several years. The numbers they get are significant, as they represent the result of the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use.
The reports from the state of Washington are extensive, covering all benefits the state experienced since 2014. Listing all changes would be strenuous, so I will make a short list of some significant changes the state experienced. This will give you some insight in the legalization of marijuana and how it affected the Washington.
The noticeable change comes in the form of almost 100% reduce in the low-level marijuana offenses for people older than 21. The overall law violations involving marijuana are just above 60 percent down. The percentage of convictions regarding crimes involving cannabis is down 81 percent. The decrease is expected as more people are willing to buy the weed from authorized distributors than to risk breaking the law. This is also affected dealers as they were left with a small number of underage customers. This forced many of them to go out of business and “close the shop.”
The revenue state collected exceeded all expectations by over 90 percent. In the first fiscal year of legalization (2014), the state accumulated 83 million dollars in revenue where they projected the revenue of around 36 million. The total revenue doesn’t cover the savings on the law enforcement resources that were, in the past, spent on enforcing marijuana laws.
The taxes on marijuana are still high, and that keeps the black market active. Overall reduce in taxes happened last year and it positively affected legal sales of weed. The law regarding taxes is still in its experimental stage, and the state is still working on it. The number of illegal distributors is lowering at a steady rate, as the quality of the legal weed goes up and the taxes on it down.