Legal Cannabis Could be the Boost our Post-Pandemic Economy Needs

Written by Rita Thompson

Facing a “Greater Depression”

The pandemic is taking a wrecking ball to our economy, leaving many confused and fearful about the future. 

According to recent reports, 30 million Americans have already filed initial unemployment claims since mid-March. As layoffs happen daily, experts predict that number will only continue to rise. Even more are working less and earning less. Unfortunately for many, under-and-un-employment concerns will last far beyond the end of quarantine. Once the shade of the novel coronavirus is lifted, America is facing an economic depression, which could last for years. 

The cannabis industry, however, could save hundreds of millions of Americans from certain unemployment. 

Tax Revenue

Similar to the 1933 lifting of alcohol prohibition, legalization would provide generational revenue for federal, state and local governments. 

States and countries that have legalized cannabis have already witnessed the economic boom from it. Colorado, for example, collected more than $302 million in taxes and fees on medical and recreational cannabis sales in 2019 alone. 

Furthermore, the legal industry in Canada has contributed $8.26 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since July 2019. 

New Frontier CEO, Giadh Aguirre De Carcer, predicts that the country could earn $105.6 billion in tax revenue by 2025, should cannabis become federally legal in the U.S.

“If cannabis businesses were legalized tomorrow and taxed as a normal business with a standard 35% tax rate, cannabis businesses would infuse the U.S. economy with an additional $12.6 billion this year,” De Carcer explained to The Washington Post. 

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs…

Cannabis advocate or not, there is no denying the legal market would provide countless jobs. 

According to Leafly’s 2019 Cannabis Jobs Count, cannabis currently directly employs more than 211,000 full-time workers in the U.S. Consider the amount of part-time, and non-direct employees—and that number is already up to 300,000. 

These aren’t just plant-touching jobs, either. In addition to cultivation, industry positions range from technology to human resources, to science. 

While CNN predicted that over 16.2 million Americans won’t have jobs upon the re-start of the economy, it’s more important than ever to advocate for an industry that could employee hundred of millions.

Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs, stressed to CNBC the possibilities that legalization could provide. “When we all start to be able to lift our heads from this COVID[-19] experience, we are going to be faced with a scenario where a lot of jobs have gone away,” Bachtell adds. “How are we going to bring that back? I think cannabis has to be a part of that discussion.” 

 

Emerald contributor since June 2019

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