Thesis:Despite the negative reputation around legalizing marijuana many feel it could be the financial boost that Michigan needs to return to its former glory.
In 2016 Michigan might have something on the ballot that, if approved, could have enormous economic impact on the state of Michigan. The ballot is a statewide marijuana legalization ballot. For those unfamiliar with marijuana I will discuss the substance and its properties then the economic impact it could have on the state of Michigan. Despite the negative reputation around legalizing marijuana many feel it could be the financial boost that Michigan needs to return to its former glory.
For those unaware, marijuana refers to dried flowers from the completely natural hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The plant contains the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and people absorb THC thought several different methods. Several studies have shown that this cheap drug is not addictive and cannot result in death due to overdose. It is widely labeled as a gateway drug and according to National Institute on Drug Abuse “Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States”, and accounts for nearly 21% of adults incarcerated in state prisons. Since 1970 it has been by the Government as a Schedule I. Schedule I is the highest level and implies that it is a dangerous substance with absolutely no medical value. To put into prospective, highly addictive drugs such as, Cocaine, opium, morphine, and codeine are filed as Schedule II drug with medical value. Why would States like Colorado legalize a drug that is labeled with no medical value? Several case studies have indicated that cannabis does have medical value for several diseases, and could be used for treatments. How can the legalization have an effect on the Michigan economy?
If legalized marijuana would be distributed and of course taxed. Due to it’s large consumer demand it would generate millions in tax revenue at precisely a time when Michigan needs a major economic boost. In 2014 alone, Colorado, one of the first states to legalize it and, “raked in $60 million in marijuana taxes and licensing fees in the past year, plus saved most if not all of the $145 million the Harvard report estimated it spent each year fighting marijuana”(Providence Journal). A 60 million dollar gain would have a large economic impact on Michigan. It could possibly be use to support education and help rebuild our infrastructure. “In January, a Survey USA poll revealed that 64 percent of Michigan residents would rather finance road maintenance and education through the legalization of marijuana instead of the proposed tax hike approved by the state legislature in 2014” (High Times). This proposed bill is estimated to yield $1.2 billion a year for new funding. Simultaneously its estimated that “Michigan’s larger population indicates the Great Lakes State could reap a $2.8 billion payoff for initiating similar legislation” to that of Colorado (The Compass Chronicle). Legalizing medical marijuana could more than double the Michigan budget, and simultaneously stop higher taxes. It would also dramatically reduce the cost of State prison facilities. Additionally, “the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative says it would create nearly 25,000 new jobs” (woodtv). Its large economic impacts and popular support are very obvious, and should be seriously considered.
On a Federal level several high profile senators like Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are proposing plans similar plans on a federal level. Federal reform is probably years away, and would generate billions in tax revenue. However for Michigan it would be economically immoral to not pass the reform. Our infrastructure and our education desperately need the money, and overall it’s just what the people want.
Disclaimer: I do not support the illegal use of marijuana, and I personally do not use the substance. This is purely about the potential economic impact for the state of Michigan.