Cannabis opponents love to scare people with doom and gloom predictions – that all this bad stuff will happen to society if legalization takes hold.
Little of this rhetoric involves any sort of legitimate science or objective reasoning, so it’s no surprise that not a single fear-mongering prediction has yet to pan out in states that have legalized cannabis.
In fact, if you look at the data – which is objective and scientific – cannabis legalization has been a smashing success.
#1) Declining teenage cannabis consumption rates
Arguably the most popular talking point for cannabis opponents leading up to legalization votes, even in 2016, was that legalizing cannabis would lead to increased consumption rates among youth.
Fortunately for society, the teenage cannabis zombie apocalypse never really happened.
Earlier this month the University of Michigan released the results of a study which looked at federal data on youth consumption rates.
The study found that since the mid-1990’s consumption rates among 8th graders have gone down by 44%, 10th graders are down 30%, and consumption rates are down 10% for high school seniors.
This decline stretches across a time span during which dozens of states legalized cannabis for medical use.
As NORML pointed out, “Previous federally funded surveys by the US Centers for Disease Control and others have similarly reported that changes in statewide marijuana laws are not associated with rising levels of youth use.”
#2) Colorado sells over a billion dollars’ worth of cannabis in 10 months
Colorado sold nearly a billion dollars’ worth of cannabis in 2015. Everyone knew that the industry was on an upward trajectory, but with other states like Oregon and Washington also allowing sales, the obvious question was whether or not Colorado would cross the one-billion-dollar mark in 2016.
Colorado’s industry has indeed crossed the billion-dollar sales mark for medical and adult-use sales, which is impressive.
It’s even more impressive when you consider that it only took ten months to pass the milestone. Sales figures from November and December won’t be available until 2017.
It cannot be understated how incredible it is to see an industry go from not existing to eclipsing the one-billion-dollar mark in such a short span of time.
A billion-dollar industry creates a lot of jobs. It also generates a lot of tax revenues that benefit all citizens of Colorado in one way or another.
#3) Oregon cannabis tax revenues exceed original predictions
I am a fourth generation Oregonian, which is something that I’m very proud of. Oregon has always been at the forefront of cannabis reform, which is a big reason why I’m so proud of the state I live in.
Oregon voters approved cannabis legalization in 2014, becoming the third state to do so. 2015 was the first year that adult-use sales were allowed in Oregon.
Preliminary estimates for cannabis tax revenues for the 2015-2017 biennium were 43.6 million dollars. From January 2016 to November 2016 actual tax revenues were $54.5 million dollars, which is quite a jump.
Can you name a state that doesn’t need an extra $54.5 million dollars?
By the way, 40% of cannabis tax revenues generated in Oregon go to schools.
Why isn’t every state legalizing cannabis and using tax revenues to support schools?
#4) Washington cannabis tax revenue continues to grow
Although Washington voted to legalize cannabis in 2012 the same day that Colorado did, Washington State didn’t roll out sales until seven months after Colorado.
The slow start in Washington led to smaller tax revenues at first, but things have picked up considerably.
About two years’ worth of cannabis tax revenue data is available in Washington, and the figures are staggering.
Total sales in Washington have exceeded the one-billion-dollar mark, which has netted $273 million in tax revenue for the State of Washington.
Washington is like any other state in that tax revenue is desperately needed. The money raised by the cannabis industry has been a blessing beyond words for Washington.
These successful numbers are no excuse to gouge cannabis consumers with high taxes nor do they cover the social justice side of cannabis legalization. However if you consider this data alongside the benefits and overall safety profile of cannabis, we have every incentive to keep moving forward with legalization.
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