I once heard an estimate that half of the marijuana industry in America is located in California. California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, and while it has yet to legalize recreational marijuana, the medical marijuana industry in California is massive. The black market in California is also massive. According to the California Department of Finance, the taxes that the State of California would generate from a legal, regulated recreational marijuana market would top one billion dollars annually. Per SF Gate:
California cannabis prohibition is costing the state about $1 billion per year in lost tax revenue that’s sorely needed for social services, a new analysis from the state’s Department of Finance reports this December 21.
Department of Finance director Michael Cohen and legislative analyst Mac Taylor reported to the Attorney General Kamala Harris this December that the state stands to gain over $1 billion in uncaptured tax revenue if California legalizes cannabis for adults 21 and over in the November 2016 election.
The Department of Finance serves as Governor Jerry Brown’s chief fiscal policy advisor and is tasked with promoting a strong, sustainable, responsible financial plan for the state.
The lost tax revenue is definitely significant, but I’d also like to see how much tax money would be saved from not enforcing prohibition in California. Then there are of course the benefits of legalization in California that would include not ruining people’s lives by arresting them and charging them with marijuana offenses, and the reduction in racial profiling that is currently done in the name of marijuana prohibition, to name just a couple. Legalization is overdue in California but there is still a lot of work to be done. Hopefully this analysis by the California Department of Finance will raise some eyebrows, turn some heads, and motivate the masses.