With over a dozen of states voting on medical or recreational marijuana legalization this November, one of the most frequently asked questions is whether the pros of legal weed outweigh the cons. Legalization of marijuana helps solve different problems: from creating more jobs to reducing the number of incarcerated people to giving the patients with severe conditions the medicine they need. And one of the most important benefits of legal cannabis is the extra tax revenue the states can receive.
Back in 2012, there still were a lot of doubts regarding whether legalizing recreational weed was a move in a right direction. However today, based on the positive experience of cannabis legalization in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, we can say that legal cannabis industry is a net benefit to the community. So, what exactly the states with legal recreational marijuana use their extra tax revenue for?
Each state with legal recreational marijuana spends some money on funding the substance abuse treatment and drug abuse prevention programs. Moreover, this is where most of the cannabis tax revenue goes. Having some extra funds allows local authorities and activists to pay more attention to the at-risk groups, including troubled youth and low-income families.
States with legal weed spend some part of the taxes received from marijuana sales on law enforcement. Since it helps provide additional training to the law enforcement officers without destabilizing the local budget, it is quite beneficial for both the system and the community.
The exact share of tax revenue allocated to law enforcement varies from state to state. Oregon, for example, spends about 35 percent of cannabis tax money on it.
States with legal recreational weed spend a lot of marijuana tax revenue on public schools, college scholarships, and various educational programs. This money creates an opportunity to launch new public schools and classes, buy better equipment, accept more students, etc. And considering the recent statements from Colorado officials, it may also be used to improve the emotional atmosphere at schools and make it more comfortable for at-risk kids and youth. Recently, the Colorado Department of Education announced that the surplus weed tax revenue will be used to fund anti-bullying programs in local public schools.
Although we are still far away from federal legalization of recreational weed, half the country can legally get access to marijuana as medicine. So, it comes as no surprise that some money received from marijuana taxes and fees are used to fund various research and treatment programs. In Washington, for example, cannabis tax revenue helps fund community health centers where people who do not have health insurance can get the medical help they need.