The True Cost Or Loss Of Marijuana Prohibition
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Politics and Activism

The True Cost Or Loss Of Marijuana Prohibition

I really hate math, but these equations needed to be done.

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The True Cost Or Loss Of Marijuana Prohibition
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In 2015 the state of Washington collected $128,948,915 in tax revenue from the sale of marijuana, pretty impressive right? Sadly there are 46 remaining states that are dragging their feet when it comes to the full legalization and in some cases any form of legalization (medicinal). I know that not all states are equal, and populations vary, but let's do a couple simple math problems that could show how much tax revenue we are missing out on by not legalizing and taxing marijuana. Lets use Washington’s tax revenue to see what we come up with.

128,948,915 x 50 = 6,447,445,750

That is $6.45 billion in tax revenue in one year that we are missing out on. Why are we leaving this on the table? Now, that was just a simple equation, by no means is that a solid number to base our decision on; like I said not all states are equal and populations differ, some states could have higher revenue, some could have lower. Not to mention that marijuana could be taxed at a different rate from state to state.

It looks as though Washington is going to experience a 15 percent increase in marijuana sales in 2016. Now let's take $6.45 billion and multiply that by 1.15… That is roughly $7.42 billion in tax revenue, but again not all states are equal. Once again, why are we leaving this on the table?

Here is something else to think about. On July 8, 2013 there were 757,969 incarcerated for marijuana offences, costing taxpayers $21,006 per inmate per year. Now, I am not a huge fan of math, but that is $15.9 trillion annually it is costing us as taxpayers to house marijuana offenders, but that is a whole other article.

OK, so let's assume that number is the same today, and we are not paying to house marijuana offenders in our prison system, and we were collecting $7.42 billion in tax revenue. That would give us a total of $23,336,459,426 that could be used for something better. Now I must remind you, these are ballpark figures based on numbers that I have found in my research, they may not be totally accurate, but we are not talking nickels and dimes here.

Let’s get back to the tax revenue from the legal sale of marijuana, and think about what that money could be used for. In the state Oregon the common school fund gets 40 percent of the tax revenue, lets apply that 40 percent to the annual figure we came up with that the legal marijuana sales would generate which was $7,414,562,612. This is another easy one to figure out—we simply take that number and multiply it by .4 and we get $2,965,825,045. For all intents and purposes we will call it 3 billion—it's an easy number to wrap our brains around. That is $3 billion we could potentially invest into our children’s future annually. How many teachers could we pay? How many books could we buy? How could we exponentially improve our children’s education? $3 billion a year will go a long way.

Now let's think about this: Washington’s total sales for marijuana in 2015 was $278,387,062. Multiply that by 50 and you will see roughly how much money is being passed around the black market tax free. You have to remember, not all states are equal but that tax-free money being passed around the black market is roughly $13,919,335,100. At face value this number tells me a two things, 1. it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, and 2. there is a demand for it. These are a few of the financial reasons why I feel that marijuana needs to be legalized. Stay tuned in the future for the rest of the reasons I feel marijuana should be legalized.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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