Idaho should legalize marijuana

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Currently, there are 29 states that have decriminalized the use of marijuana, most of them solely for medical use, whereas a few others for recreational use. Idaho is surrounded by states that have legalized its use, yet the stigma of marijuana use still endures in Idaho. The misconceptions of marijuana are strongly prevalent in Idaho. The state legislature even passed a resolution back in 2013 affirming their strong opposition to legalizing marijuana.

Even with the misconceptions surrounding the topic, current studies and data present the benefits of the legalization in those states. The many benefits to legalized marijuana include a decrease in opioid-related deaths, increased tax revenue and a boost in the economy and jobs.

Decrease in opioid-related deaths

A peer-reviewed article studied Colorado’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012, and concluded there has been “a reduction that represents a reversal of the upward trend in opioid-related deaths in Colorado.”

According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths with prescriptions opioids have quadrupled since 1999. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died nationally from prescription opioid overdose related deaths.

One of the main reasons there has been a reversal in the opioid-related deaths in Colorado is because marijuana contains properties that effectively control chronic pain (cannabinoids). The recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado has increased the its use, which in effect has reduced the use of opioids and thus decreased the abuse and deaths.

Recently, a new study report was released from the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering. In their findings, there was strong evidence supporting the therapeutic use of cannabis and cannabinoids that are used to treat chronic pain.

Opioid abuse is a concern not only nationally, but also locally. According to an article from The Idaho Statesman, in 2013 an Idahoan citizen died every 39 hours from an illicit, prescription or over-the-counter drug.

As the data demonstrates in Colorado, if Idaho were to legalize marijuana, more citizens would be able to recreationally use it, and the abuse of opioids would decrease.

Increase in tax revenue

According to the marijuana tax data found in the Colorado Department of Revenue, since the legalization of marijuana tax revenue has increased exponentially. Currently the state retail marijuana sales tax rate is 15%. The state share of the total tax revenue is 90%, with 10% of the share going to local government.

As explained in a recent article in CNN money, the state of Colorado has received more than $506 million from retail sales since January 2014.

According to Arcview Market Research, in 2016 sales of legalized marijuana in North America grew 30% to $6.7 billion and is expected to increase to $20.1 billion by 2021.

These numbers are quite impressive, so it’s imperative to see how states are benefiting from the elevated tax revenue. According to Business Insider, in Nevada the additional money brought in from legalized marijuana will assist Nevada schools and their public education.

If Idaho were to legalize marijuana, then they would be able to use that excess tax revenue to help boost our public schools and infrastructure. Idaho has been growing at a rapid rate for several years, and we desperately need new schools due to overcrowding. If Idaho were to legalize marijuana, then that tax money could assist with this concern.

Boost in economy and jobs

In a new report conducted by Marijuana Business Daily, marijuana companies employ approximately 100,000 to 150,000 workers. The report states that the industry currently employs the same number of people nationally that are flight attendants or librarians.

In the same report they found that the plant side of the industry is also massive, employing approximately 58,000 to 80,000 workers.

Tourism has also increased the economy throughout states that have legalized marijuana. According to the Colorado Tourism Office, in 2015 it was reported that 77.7 million visitors came to Colorado and spent a record $19.1 billion, which produced $1.13 billion in local and state taxes.

Although many Idahoans have become hopeless and commonly joke that “Idaho will be the last state to legalize marijuana,” there seems to be hope on the horizon, such as a 2018 proposed ballot initiative for the legalization of medical marijuana in Idaho.

Ultimately, even though the misconceptions still exist surrounding the legalization of marijuana, the data demonstrates that there are several advantages that consumers, residents and states can reap overall from the legalization of marijuana.

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