4/20: 16 Ways Marijuana Affects The Economy

04/20/2012 11:36 am ET | Updated Apr 20, 2012
  • Harry Bradford Associate Editor, HuffPost Business and HuffPost Small Business

In honor of 4/20, we had hoped to give you 420 reasons to celebrate. Then we randomly got lazy. So here are, like, 16 reasons instead.

Legalizing marijuana could save the U.S. government $13.7 billion by eliminating prohibition enforcement costs and adding billions in tax revenue, according to a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron that’s gained the support of more than 300 of his economist peers. Proponents have highlighted the potential economic benefits of legalizing marijuana for years, but the growth and legitimization of medical marijuana dispensaries recently could lend the argument more credibility.

Tax revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries is already giving state and local budgets a much needed boost. Oakland, California, for example, inhaled $1.4 million, or 3 percent of the city's total business tax revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries last year, The New York Times reports. Meanwhile, the states of Colorado, Maine and Oregon have all pulled in added tax revenue from medical marijuana.

If the experience of marijuana growing supplier weGrow is any indication, the marijuana industry could also be a big job creator. The chain has opened stores in California, Arizona and, most recently, Washington D.C. and with each new store 75 indirect jobs are created, according to AZBusiness Magazine. Meanwhile, Harborside Health Center, the biggest medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, employs 120 people, according to the NYT.

But not everyone is convinced legal marijuna would be such a boon for the economy, namely the federal government. Despite President Obama’s campaign promises to respect state laws concerning medical marijuana, the Department of Justice has recently cracked down. This month, Oaksterdam University, which offers training to medical marijuana growers was raided by federal agents, while the IRS has been targeting medical marijuana businesses since last year.

President Obama said in 2009 “I don't think [legalizing marijuana is] a good strategy to grow our economy” but others seem to disagree.

Here are 16 facts on marijuana and business:

16 Facts About Marijuana And The U.S. Economy

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