Voters in twelve states — including Massachusetts, Maine, and New Jersey — have enacted laws to replace cannabis prohibition with sensible regulation for adults 21 and older. Another six states have legalized cannabis via their legislatures. We’ve had several years to see how regulating cannabis like alcohol is working. Colorado and Washington — which were the first two states to regulate cannabis in 2012 — have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and created tens of thousands of jobs. And, as a report from the Cato Institute noted, “The absence of significant adverse consequences [from these laws] is especially striking given the sometimes dire predictions made by legalization opponents.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado — who originally strongly opposed the initiative that regulated marijuana in his state — recently said that, while implementation was challenging, it was “also one of the things I’m most proud of.” He also said that, from a “35,000-foot level,” things in Colorado have gone well, citing things like the fact that health officials have not seen increased teen use or a dramatic increase in overall consumption, and that polls show residents are increasingly in favor of continued legalization.
In Colorado alone, over 40,000 people are actively licensed to work directly in cannabis businesses, which does not count all the people in related industries like security, garden supplies, technology providers, engineers, consultants, and others. As Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon explained, her state has “a great opportunity for us to grow a nascent industry that could create good-paying jobs around the state of Oregon and help grow our economy. That’s what we should be focused on.”
According to Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington state:
"Our state’s efforts to regulate the sale of marijuana are succeeding. A few years ago, the illegal trafficking of marijuana lined the pockets of criminals everywhere. Now, in our state, illegal trafficking activity is being displaced by a closely regulated marijuana industry that pays hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. This frees up significant law enforcement resources to protect our communities in other, more pressing ways."
|Life After Legalization (PDF)