Here at Surna, we are big fans of regulating the cannabis industry. Why? Because regulation leads to job creation, tax revenue and a decrease in availability to minors, not to mention a better understanding of what exactly it is that you are buying.
With the legalization and regulation of marijuana comes an entirely new industry, thus leading to a large number of jobs being created. By some estimates, there are now more than 10,000 people working in the cannabis industry1, jobs that wouldn’t exist without legalization. At Surna alone, we have created more than 10 new jobs since April of this year.
In today’s cash-strapped economy, few states can turn away extra revenue. But that’s exactly what they are doing by refusing to regulate marijuana. According to Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper’s, recent budget proposal2, Colorado is expected to generate a billion dollars of marijuana sales over the next fiscal year, leading to roughly $134 million in tax revenue. That’s $134 million the state didn’t have last year. And while that is a small percentage of the overall state budget, it can still go a long way towards improving schools and infrastructure around the state. In the first four months alone, recreational marijuana brought in more than $10 million in tax revenue – more than anyone expected.
Availability to Teens
While many people worry that legalization of marijuana will lead to an increase in teen use, the opposite is turning out to be true. As long as marijuana is left to the black market, drug dealers won’t care who they are selling to – as long as they have the money to buy. This free-for-all actually makes it easier for teens to get a hold of drugs. Ask any high schooler and they are bound to know where to look for illegal marijuana. However, once the growth and sale of marijuana is legalized and regulated, it becomes harder for minors to obtain. Dispensaries strictly enforce the minimum age to purchase, knowing that if they don’t, their whole business is at stake. In a recent sting operation, 100% of the stores were found to be in compliance with the rules3.
Many studies have been conducted on the connection between legalization and teen use, and the worst any study has found is that there is no connection between teen usage and legalization4. At best, some studies have found a slight negative correlation between teen use and legalization, meaning that some studies have found teen use of marijuana drops slightly after legalization.
Need more convincing that legalizing marijuana doesn’t lead to higher rates of teen usage? Colorado has seen a 3% drop in teen use and a 25% drop in availability on school grounds since legalizing marijuana5.
Crime Rates Drop
According to USA Today, marijuana-related arrests make up 50% of all drug-related crimes6. Many of these are for minor infractions, like possession, for which removing the penalty and prosecution is estimated to save between $12 and $40 million a year7.
With legalization and regulation, police are able to focus their efforts on other criminal activities. As a result, the Denver city and county murder rate dropped 42% in the first quarter of this year8 as compared to the same time period last year. Additionally, violent crimes dropped 2% and property crimes decreased 11%.
As many people are fond of saying, today’s marijuana is much stronger than that of the seventies. In fact, while typical THC levels in the 70s were around 3%, average THC levels now hover closer to 12%, with some strains as high as 36% THC9. This means that without regulation, it is impossible to know how strong your pot is going to be, or what chemicals may be mixed in.
However, with legalization and regulation, come strict guidelines on packaging. This includes noting the weight, strain name, THC content, CBD content, indica vs sativa content, moisture content, package date, where and how it was grown, as well as serving size for edibles. Additionally, starting in October, all marijuana will have to be tested for contaminants including mold and pesticides. All this information adds up to peace of mind. You know what you are getting and how much you are getting, allowing you to choose what is right for you. This article details all the ways in which regulated packaging make for a better experience.
People have already proven that they are going to use marijuana whether or not it is legal. Why not regulate it and allow the economy to benefit from the legal sale of marijuana? As Colorado and Washington are proving, the world does not end with legalization, and in fact, there are many benefits.