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Hemp Hero: How Marijuana Could Save The Economy

It's a no-brainer: ending the 'war on drugs' would create jobs, cut law enforcement costs, raise revenue – and benefit patients.

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Another report estimates that nationwide  government spending on enforcing marijuana laws costs $7.7bn per year.  A look at Montana, however, shows how the state has been given a much needed bump from the legalisation of medical marijuana.  Since 2004, investors have put millions of dollars into the newly legalised medical marijuana sector, creating jobs for professional horticulturists, construction workers and electricians put out of work by the recession.  This small marijuana industry created 1,400 jobs last year – this in a state with less than a million people.

A change in US marijuana policy would mean significant savings.  Full legalisation would bring in an estimated $2.4bn annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods, and $6.2bn annually if it were taxed at rates similar to those on alcohol and tobacco.  In fact, legalisation of marijuana – the cessation of prosecutions and tax revenue – could put more than $13bn into government coffers.  That would equal the entire budget of the department of labour. Maybe with a budget twice as large, it could focus on creating jobs and getting Americans back to work.

Why should sick patients like Dolin continue to suffer without the medical treatment they need? At a time when tens of millions of people can't find work, and while pay and healthcare benefits are being cut, why should our sick economy be deprived of so much needed revenue? On this 40th anniversary of the failed drug war, we must, instead, envision a drug policy that is patient-centred and fiscally responsible – a policy that puts Americans first.

This article was  originally published by The Morningside Post and is crossposted by permission of the editors

Samantha McCann is a student at Colmbia University, working for a master's degree in public administration at the school of international and public affairs (Sipa). She is also an editor at the Morningside Post.

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