Jerusalem, Israel: Legalizing the retail production and sale of cannabis would generate an estimated 1.6 sheckels (approximately $450 million) annually, according to an economic assessment published this month by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies (JIMS).
The authors estimate the existing Israeli marijuana market to total some 2.5 billion sheckels ($704 million). They estimate that taxes imposed on the plant could yield some 950 million sheckels ($207 million) in new annual revenue, while such a change in law would save an additional 700 million sheckels ($197 million) in prosecutorial costs.
According to the JIMS paper, cannabis-related offenses in Israel comprise some 5.2 percent of the nation's criminal cases. An estimated 5.4 percent of all Israeli prisoners are incarcerated for cannabis violations.
"Recognizing the enormous financial gains that would come from legalization demands that the government take a serious look at the proposal to legalize cannabis use under specific guidelines," said paper co-author Yarden Gazit. "There is no disputing that if the public is able to get past the wholly negative misperceptions associated with marijuana usage and appreciate the potential benefits with limited social or healthcare costs, this is an idea that needs open-minded and serious re-examination at this time."
The cultivation and distribution of cannabis for therapeutic purposes in presently legal in Israel and is strongly supported by the public. By contrast, only 26 percent of Israeli's endorse allowing cannabis for social purposes.