The upcoming election in November isn’t just about choosing what presidential candidate is the right fit for leading the country. For nine states, a huge part of their electoral process this year has been dedicated to opening up discussion about legalizing marijuana use.
These nine states are focusing their efforts on relaxing their legal statues of both medical and recreational marijuana use. California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada are considering legalizing but taxing recreational marijuana use. Voters in Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota will be deciding whether to permit medical use for certain conditions such as cancer or chronic pain management.
No matter how the votes turn out, these decisions can impact both the federal and state governments in many ways. First off, only four states — Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, plus the District of Columbia– have completely legalized recreational marijuana use. In total, 25 states have legalized medical use. Adding more states into the mix can lead to a domino affect, where more Americans can gain access to this drug that is said to provide a host of medical benefits.
Those who are in favor of legalizing marijuana believe it will cut down on fatalities that come with illegal drug use. Sadly, in 2014 alone, there were 47,055 individuals who died due to fatal drug overdoses.
Additionally, marijuana has also been shown to be just as effective in pain management as prescription medications. A full 48.5% of Americans have used at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days, so those in favor of legalization are hoping this number will be cut down in favor of a more holistic method.
Not to mention, these nine legal marijuana initiatives have the potential to add $7.8 billion dollars to the U.S. economy by 2020. According to a new study that highlights the investment trends in this booming market, the financial benefits that would come with legalizing this drug would be unprecedented.
As reported on USA Today, the New Frontier Data and Arcview Market Research study shows that California will likely be impacted the most from legalization, as the state has a population of 40 million. A simple state-taxed marijuana mandate could generate a whopping $1 billion in taxes alone.
“The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy and continues to astonish those in and out of the space,” Giadha DeCarcer, New Frontier’s CEO, explained in her statement releasing the study.
Whats more is that New Frontier predicts the marijuana market will be worth a full $22.8 billion nationwide by the year 2020.
This is big news for California as voters in this state have been pushing to legalize marijuana use for years. They even have the backings of some celebrities to help influence voters who are undecided. Big names such as Whoopi Goldberg, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and the family of reggae star Bob Marley have entered the marijuana marketplace and have created a variety of remedies using the healing powers of this drug.
“Savvy investors looking to get into the cannabis market can look at these numbers and see the industry is on the cusp, ready to explode. We are already seeing an enormous amount of interest from investors and entrepreneurs who recognize the unique scale of the opportunity presented by cannabis legalization,” explains Troy Dayton, the Arcview Group CEO.
Plus, putting these nine states aside, adults across the country have pledged their support for the legalization of the drug in higher numbers than ever before. Support has risen to a full 60% in adults, up from 32% ten years ago.
However, legalization is strictly biased across party lines, with Democrats highly favoring the drug and Republicans opposing it.
So come November, this country is sure to be changed in more ways than one.