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What Do States Gain After Legalizing Marijuana?

What Do States Gain After Legalizing Marijuana?
By: Michael Jacobs,

Statewide, Pennsylvania has already approved medical marijuana for certain conditions. When it comes to statewide legalization, there are some definite pros to making marijuana legal recreationally.

  • Safety
    Weed bought off the street, even when a person knows their source personally, can be varied in its cannabinoid profile and cultivation environment. By regulating sales of marijuana, Pennsylvania can regain some oversight over the various properties of the strains available to be sold.
  • Less Money Going To Organized Crime
    It’s no secret that the drug cartels both inside the United States and internationally are making money on the sale of something that is illegal. By legalizing marijuana, the need to use illegal means to acquire it are no longer necessary, and thus you are taking money away from them. This money goes back into your own community instead.
  • Expanded Medicinal Use
    Marijuana has medicinal benefits and many states have recognized that by making the use of medical marijuana legal. Which conditions are covered by medical marijuana initiatives are widely varied. By legalizing recreationally, government paves the way for people who suffer conditions not covered by medical marijuana laws to get relief for their symptoms.
  • Revenue Boosts
    Making marijuana legal, and therefore taxable, can help to boost statewide revenues. In fact, states who have already legalized, such as Colorado, have seen such a boost that they were able to offer Colorado citizens refund checks.

Pennsylvania need only look to other states who have legalized to see the benefits that they, too, can reap. By October of 2016, Colorado had already topped $1 billion in marijuana sales for the year. Translating that to revenues for the state, Colorado brought in $150 million in taxes from recreational marijuana sales. $50 million of that is reinvested right back into the state’s school system.

The story in Washington was similar. Between legalizing recreational marijuana in 2014 and 2015, the state sold more than $1 billion in non-medical marijuana. This generated $250 million in excise tax revenues.

By legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, both states saw a decrease in arrests for the possession and cultivation of the drug, leading to fewer revenues spent housing and feeding inmates arrested for this crime. Since the criminal justice system sees more arrests for marijuana than all violent crimes combined, the legalization of marijuana can have a huge impact on state and local prison systems.

Legalizing marijuana can prevent Pennsylvania from using law enforcement resources in raids like the one that happened in April. With those resources free, they can be allocated to pursuing more worthwhile cases. Pennsylvania can see an increase in tax revenues that can be utilized statewide to improve schools, infrastructure, and provide more revenue for other worthy projects. Citizens and state officials alike could stand to benefit from the statewide legalization of marijuana.


Michael is a marketing and creative content specialist at with primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points.