Cost of Prohibition: 5 Ways the Pot Ban Wreaks Havoc on the U.S. Economy

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Prohibition has taken a heavy toll on society. While many marijuana law reform advocates rightly focus on how the pot ban has criminalized large segments of the population, it’s also had a disastrous impact on the US economy.

Fewer Jobs
In states where medical or recreational cannabis has been legalized, employment has increased. Retail sales in Colorado alone have created more than 10,000 jobs in three years – jobs previously unavailable under prohibition. Also, pot busts prevent otherwise capable employees from finding work due to imprisonment or arrest records.

Loss of Markets
The United States is getting trounced in the global markets. America already trails Canada, Europe and China when it comes to hemp production – even India is set to become a major player. Meanwhile, the US is in danger of becoming No. 3 in North America when it comes to reefer reform, as both Canada and Mexico stand poised to legalize recreational ganja nationwide.

Poorer Health
Marijuana’s health benefits have long been ignored because the Feds prohibit its study. To take just one example: The medical journal Obesity linked cannabis use to reduced body-mass index and fat mass, while a 2010 Brookings Institution study estimated the total cost of American obesity at a belt-busting $215 billion per year. Obviously, a less healthy society is also one that’s less productive economically.

Lost Tax Revenue
Prohibition’s effect on the economy is a complex issue, but two points stand out: Taxpayer dollars spent on arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning nonviolent marijuana offenders are completely wasted, even as prohibition costs governments the revenue that could come from taxing legal marijuana sales. A 2007 Marijuana Policy Almanac study found that these two factors ripped off American taxpayers for $42 billion annually, an amount that’s surely risen in the past decade.

Urban Blight
Many municipalities have been brainwashed into opposing cannabusinesses. For example, neighborhood groups on the economically depressed South Side of Chicago were so irrationally opposed to medical pot that it took until May 2016 for a dispensary to open. But data show that legal marijuana businesses improve areas of blight. Downtown warehouses, once neglected and empty, now host large-scale grows, generating revenue.

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