Voters in Washington state and Colorado recently approved measures that result in marijuana decriminalization, while a similar law was defeated in Oregon. Some feel it was the wrong move, but decriminalizing it is set to yield some serious economic benefits.
Marijuana decriminalization, not legalization, is what occurred
Strictly speaking, legalization and decriminalization are not the same things, though many people think that they are. Granted, a lot people don’t know the difference between “you’re” and “your” or at least can’t demonstrate that they do.
The difference between the two is the decriminalization is where something is no longer necessarily totally illegal, but is still regulated. Legalization is the ablution of any laws governing whatever said thing is, whether it’s a recreational drug, sports car, personal loans or what-have-you.
Voters in Colorado and Washington state, according to the Boston Globe, have approved measures that would decriminalize marijuana in those states. Voters in Oregon did not approve a similar measure. Though a number of critics are sounding off for various reasons, there are some economic benefits these states stand to reap as a result.
Legal and retail sectors to benefit
The economic arguments for marijuana decriminalization have some weight. According to the Huffington Post, Washington state could reap up to $500 million in additional tax revenues. According to Businessweek, it could add up to $1.9 billion in taxes in the next five years. Colorado expects up to $60 million in savings and tax income, according to the Huffington Post. Medical marijuana dispensaries provided $5 million in tax benefits for that state.
All of a sudden, Rocky Mountain High takes on a whole other meaning.
It’s estimated that national marijuana decriminalization would result in a net savings of $1 billion from simply not throwing people in jail for possessing, using or selling the substance anymore. Prohibition enforcement against marijuana alone is estimated to cost the nation almost $14 billion per year.
No one forced to use it
In both Colorado and Washington state, marijuana decriminalization still means there are laws governing the substance. Sale must be from state-approved stores in both cases, according to Businessweek.
Cities in Colorado, according to MSN, can decide whether or not to allow such stores within city limits and employers there can still forbid employees from using it. In Washington, one has to present a photo I.D., and must be at least 21 years of age to purchase it. Just like in Colorado, employers can still forbid employees from use.