It’s not so hard to believe, from lawmakers to business executives, everyone is talking about it. Federal marijuana legalization is coming and it may be sooner than you think. Every week, there’s either a new bill or an existing one being pushed to legalize marijuana across different states. States like Hawaii and Virginia have recently legalized cannabis via their state congresses, with more to follow.
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Even neighboring countries like Mexico are at advanced stages in their cannabis legalization journeys. How will the U.S. economy and society respond to federal marijuana legalization? The following highlights some of the changes we can expect to find with society and the economy once marijuana becomes legal nationwide.
5 things to expect with federal marijuana legalization
Here are the top 5 ways in which federal marijuana legalization will change the country and our lives.
Businesses and HR will suffer or adapt
As things currently stand, most businesses and their HR continue to regard marijuana as a prohibited substance. While it is still uncertain how many will respond to federal marijuana legalization, businesses will undoubtedly have to figure out a response in advance. For instance, the bill introduced by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden in February 2019 was silent about the need for employers to embrace marijuana use. A situation like this could potentially leave the decision in the hands of employers and potential lawsuits. Some experts however believe that some HRs will simply adopt a blanket policy that indicates that they will not accommodate the use of marijuana.
The U.S. government currently spends around $29 billion in enforcing the ban on marijuana. Experts also believe that a federally legalized cannabis industry could potentially generate over $100 billion for the local, state, and the federal government. Let’s take Colorado as a case study. In 2019, the state’s marijuana industry recorded a total of $1.7 billion from sales in its medical and recreational sectors. This led to a revenue of over $300 million for the state government.
On a much broader level, the U.S. marijuana industry recorded sales of $12.2 billion in 2019. There are also projections for annual sales to hit $31.1 billion by 2024. Research also suggests that as far back as 2017, the marijuana industry was already contributing around $80 million to the local economy primarily via taxes and other fees.
In addition, federal marijuana legalization would instantly lift the limitations hindering many cannabis companies from growing or expanding. The businesses can also list their cannabis stocks on major exchanges like NASDAQ and NYSE and have access to more funding.
More jobs can be expected
When it comes to job creation, it’s 100% factual to state that the industry, despite the federal limitations, has created hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide. In 2019, the cannabis industry added over 40,000 jobs, bringing the industry total to over 240,000. Although actual figures for 2020 are yet to emerge, there were projections that total marijuana jobs would exceed 280,000. When you factor in the additional states that have agreed to or already legalized cannabis since 2019, this projection may be underestimated.
Federal marijuana legalization will improve the justice system
Even the government agrees that the justice system has been unfair in the fight against marijuana in the past. Federal marijuana legalization will play an essential role in righting the wrongs of the unfair war on marijuana. Based on data from the FBI Unified Crime Statistics, marijuana accounted for 3.3% of sale/manufacturing drug crime arrests and 36.8% of possession and use drug crime arrests in 2018. This places a huge and significant burden on the U.S. judicial system. Marijuana legalization will effectively fix this menace.
Eradication of black market activity and cartel violence
Research has proven over the years that the legalization of marijuana generally helps to reduce the violence and crime associated with the illicit trade. By shrinking black market activity, power and wealth are essentially removed from the hands of cartels. Federal legalization of marijuana in the U.S. will effectively make this happen.
Closing thoughts: federal marijuana legalization is coming
As public sentiment continues to grow in favor of marijuana legalization, it’s no longer an issue that lawmakers and politicians can avoid. With more pro-marijuana lawmakers available at both state and federal level than ever before, this is certainly a good time for cannabis advocates. This article covers some positive changes to be expected in the U.S. when marijuana is legalized nationwide.
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