First of all, let’s get something out of the way – marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Yes, even though four U.S. states so far and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana during the last 25 months, under the federal government’s scheduling system marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 substance like heroin — it’s perceived to have a high potential for abuse and no medical value. Supporters of legalization consider marijuana’s current schedule absurd while the federal government, in return, argues that there isn’t enough evidence to prove marijuana has medical value. One of the reasons there isn’t enough scientific evidence to change marijuana’s status might be, in fact, the status of the plant itself, because the DEA restricts how much marijuana can go to research. Obviously, there needs to be a certain level of scientific research proving marijuana has medical value, but the federal government’s restrictions make it difficult to conduct that research. But the good news is that the legalization is advancing, nonetheless, one state at a time. So, nearly one year after Colorado first started selling recreational cannabis, the time has come to ask: Is legalization actually working? It definitely looks like it’s working, based on our own biased opinion and on various legitimate media reports, and here are the reasons why.
Made-in-America marijuana is on a roll
According to the Washington Post story, Mexican drug farmers are turning away from cannabis and planting their fields with opium poppies instead. Whoa, that didn’t come out right! Although it doesn’t sound like a positive change, farmers in the storied “Golden Triangle” region of Mexico’s Sinaloa state say they are no longer planting the crop because its wholesale price has dropped in the past five years, from $100 per kilogram to less than $25 – it’s not worth the effort anymore.
Whether for medicinal or recreational use, more than half the states have now voted in favor of cannabis. Naturally, as a result, Americans started buying more domestic marijuana and so began undercutting growers and cartels in Mexico. Yes, legalization is hurting cartels’ businesses, and we love it. If the U.S. continues to legalize marijuana, it will eventually become pointless for Mexican cartels to have marijuana in their portfolio at all. Surely, cartels and their farmers complain that legalization is hurting their business, but somehow we’re under the impression that no one cares about that.
End prohibition and start earning money
Legalization advocates argue that the prohibition of marijuana has failed on so many levels. Even though it’s been illegal for such a long time, marijuana was always the most popular “substance” in the US. At the same time, prohibition has created all sorts of perverse outcomes that will finally stop with legalization. Maintaining prohibition costs billions of dollars each year, it hurts many innocent lives and unlike legalization – it doesn’t bring any money to the table.
Colorado has earned $14 million in taxed sales – in January 2014 alone, putting about $2 million of tax revenue into state wallet. All eyes are now fixed on Colorado’s example, which continues to serve as a promising sign that legal marijuana can be a powerful source of income. While it’s still early to make serious predictions, the results are more than promising.