Legalizing marijuana is controversial, as adversaries believe it is a gateway drug to more dangerous substances, or that it signals a breakdown of our society.
But love or hate legalization, there's no denying one irrefutable positive: the economic benefits from marijuana sales.
As of right now, only four states have legalized recreational marijuana usage as of May 25.
While the sample size of economic benefits is small, you may be shocked at how effective marijuana legalization could be in stimulating your hometown economy...
Economic Benefit from Marijuana Sales No. 5: Job Creation
Before Amendment 64 was passed in Colorado in 2014, unemployment that January was at 5.8%. After it passed, unemployment in the state dropped to 4.2%, as of January 2015.
This drop in unemployment in the Centennial State is at least somewhat related to its booming marijuana industry, if not totally related. You see, according to NaturalSociety.com, over 10,000 new jobs were created from January 2014 to May 2014, when Amendment 64 first passed. These are positions that never existed before.
And as the industry grows, more and more jobs will be created.
On top of job creation, the marijuana industry has positively impacted wages...
For example, "bud trimmers" trim away leaves from marijuana plants. According to the Associated Press, these workers can earn as much as $15 per hour. That's more than double the minimum wage of $7.25. And employees who climb the ranks can have an even more lucrative full-time career. Gardeners and concentrate makers can earn as much as $90,000 a year.
Aside from these completely new jobs, marijuana sales are also creating more jobs within an established industry: protection services.
Because legal marijuana stores deal with a large amount of cash and a very valuable product, it can be a dangerous business to work in even when it's legitimate. According to reporter Grant Hatchimonju of CSO.org, one shop in Denver spends between $5,000 to $10,000 a month just on security.
This need for security has also created opportunities for military veterans - a group that often struggles to find careers that can utilize their skills and expertise.
As of 2014, 7.9% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan did not have jobs. That was much higher than the 5.7% national average.
According to International Business Times, David Keyes, an Air Force vehicle operator who was deployed twice in Iraq and once in Qatar, helped transport high-raking officials through dangerous territories. After trying out different jobs when he returned, Keyes found his skills transferred over as a night security guard at a Colorado marijuana dispensary. Keyes than went on to become the operations manager at Security Grade Protective Services, a security guard service that provides a full suite of security services tailored to the cannabis industry in Denver.
These new jobs are a great way to stimulate local economies.
But the economic benefits of marijuana sales go well beyond that, including helping the fight against terrorism and saving police departments millions...
Economic Benefit from Marijuana Sales No. 4: Decreased Law Enforcement Costs
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According to DrugPolicy.org, violent crime in Denver decreased by 2.2% in the first 11 months of 2014 compared to the first 11 months of 2013.
During the same period, burglaries in Denver decreased by 9.5% and overall property crime decreased by 8.9%.
The results were even more impressive in Washington State...
Statewide violent crime fell by 10% between 2011 and 2014, and the murder rate actually decreased by 13%.
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The reduction of crime as a whole saves the public and police departments money. Policy officers don't have to use resources on marijuana crimes and can focus on bigger issues.
But the reduction in marijuana crimes and convictions specifically saves police departments millions.
Before the passage of I-502 in Washington State, a single arrest and prosecution for possession of marijuana could cost the state between $1,000 to $2,000 in prosecutor, defense attorney, court, and police expenses.
Between 2000-2010, Washington spent $200 million on marijuana law enforcement.
And the reduction of marijuana arrests in Washington since 2010 has been staggering...
As more states legalize weed sales, police departments across the country can experience a reduction in costs - and focus increased manpower on more pressing matters.
And while police are able to keep our local towns safe, America as a whole can be much safer through marijuana legalization...
Economic Benefit from Marijuana Sales No. 3: Less Income for Terrorists
One economic benefit of marijuana sales is actually a reduction in funds for terrorists...
You see, according to the UN world drug report, the international drug trade generates $400 billion annually. And according to Alternet.org, 59 officially designated foreign terrorist organizations have been linked to the global drug trade.
Should marijuana become more widely legalized, that would hypothetically vastly shrink a major income source for funding terrorism.
In 2004, a joint investigation by French and Spanish secret services uncovered sales from cannabis were funding terror attacks in Spain, Morocco, and Algeria. Spanish police found that terrorists who bombed Madrid bought explosives from former miners in return for blocks of hashish.
The bombings killed 191 people.
Even 12 years ago, French terrorism expert Dominique Thomas said the link between drug dealing and Islamic terrorism was not new.
According a report from the IHS, ISIS has had to increase drug trafficking to make up for the taxes it has lost because of citizens and businesses leaving ISIS-occupied areas.
As of March, the IHS reported ISIS collected $56 million. That's a decrease of 42% from the estimate of $80 million ISIS earned monthly in 2015.
In a report, senior IHS analyst Ludovico Carlino said that ISIS cares more about quick sales now, even if it means lower revenue.
Economic Benefit from Marijuana Sales No. 2: Reduced U.S. Taxes
According to a July Gallup survey, one in eight U.S. adults smoke marijuana. That means 13% of all Americans smoke weed, and that number is up six percentage points from July 2013.
The number of Americans who have tried marijuana, though, is even higher. More than one in four Americans have smoked marijuana before, which represents 43% of U.S. adults. That number is up slightly from the 38% who said they had smoked weed before in 2013.
So even though nearly half of adult Americans have tried marijuana at least once in their lives, they are paying billions to send people to prison for the offense...
You see, U.S. taxpayers have to pay every time someone is arrested. According to a research study in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, taxpayers ponied up over $1 billion per year to incarcerate people for marijuana charges.
In addition to that, those who are arrested for violating marijuana laws cost taxpayers $8 million in criminal justice costs.
All of these benefits thus far have helped the economy as a whole.
But the next economic benefit from marijuana sales can actually make you a lot of money - legally, and whether or not you actually partake in the drug...
Economic Benefit from Marijuana Sales No. 1: Pot Can Make You Rich
You don't have to sell pot to make massive profits from marijuana. All you have to do is know how to profit off of its legalization...
The pot industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in America. According to analysts from the ArcView Group, the marijuana industry grew 24% in 2015 to $5.7 billion.
In 2016, the legal weed market in America is expected to grow to $7.1 billion. From 2015, that's an increase of 26%.
The most direct way to make money from the legal pot industry is to invest in marijuana stocks. Right now, there are over 80 different marijuana stocks that trade on the Nasdaq or over-the-counter.
Editor's Note: This helpful guide will provide you with everything you need to consider before investing in pot stocks.
Another way to play the pot market is to invest in the biotech sector. In a 2010 ABC News poll, 81% of Americans believed medical weed should be legalized.
Most laws make it extremely difficult or impossible for companies to research marijuana, but legalization would help biotech companies produce products that not only help people, but bring in massive revenue.
As of right now, 24 states and the District of Columbia allow for the use of marijuana for medical reasons. So as more and more states legalize marijuana and it becomes easier to research and study, companies will be able to produce more products and have better insights.
Early research shows that marijuana can treat post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, Type 2 diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
- International Business Times: Big Pot Security Detail: Marijuana Security Industry Draws Military Vets
- The Huffington Post: Legalizing Marijuana Should Be a Top National Security Objective: Terrorism and Border Instability Would Diminish
- The Guardian: Cannabis Cash 'Funds Islamist Terrorism'
- The Daily Beast: Could Legalizing Pot in Europe Help Stop ISIS?
- Alternet.org: Pot Prisoners Cost Americans $1 Billion a Year