Here’s How Much California Would Bring In Every Year If They Legalize Marijuana

Californians have a choice ahead of them. In November, citizens of the Golden State will decide whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.  One of the most compelling arguments proponents of marijuana legalization have used in previous efforts to legalize marijuana in other states, is that it will bring in extra money for the state’s budget.

On that front, there is plenty of evidence to support that argument. Oregon saw a jaw-dropping amount of extra revenue after they legalized marijuana. Officials in Oregon expected to bring in $2 million dollars in tax revenue after their first year of legal weed. They nearly doubled their expectation bringing in an astounding $3.48 million dollars in new tax revenue.

So how much is California expected to bring in should they choose to legalize recreational marijuana? Reuters reports that California could take in an additional $1 billion dollars a year:

“With a population of nearly 40 million people, and a thriving medical marijuana trade legalized 20 years ago, California already has the United States’ largest legal marijuana market. Legalization of recreational pot would generate an estimated $1 billion in additional taxes per year.”

Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana have received similar tax windfalls. Colorado, the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana, took in $135 million dollars in taxes and fees in 2015. Colorado is pumping most of their new tax dollars into schools and other education initiatives.

The state of Washington raised $67.5 million dollars in tax revenue from recreational marijuana in 2015. They are expected to raise more than $1 billion dollars over four years. This money goes into Washington’s general fund and to help fund health services.

Legalizing marijuana would also save California a lot of money due to no longer having to pay the enormous cost of enforcing current marijuana laws. In 2012, over 21,000 people were arrested for crimes related to marijuana criminalization. The number of overall arrests – especially felony arrests — has plummeted over the years after changes were made to the California’s marijuana laws. However, the cost both budgetary and human of marijuana criminalization is still a huge financial burden for the citizens of California to bear.

It’s time for California, as well as the rest of the nation for that matter, to end marijuana prohibition once and for all. We cannot afford not to.

Featured image from David McNew/Getty Images