Would legalizing marijuana save money?

One of the biggest arguments for legalizing marijuana is that it could save the government—and the taxpayers—a lot of money. The police could spend less time arresting suspects, the courts wouldn’t have to try them, and the prisons would not be full of drug offenders; right now, about 30 percent of all drug arrests are tied to marijuana. Are there any facts backing up this argument?

It’s hard to know exactly how much would be saved, but there are some numbers that are quite interesting. A third of all drug busts that are connected to marijuana would drop significantly, though they may not be totally eliminated, as there could still be arrests for illegal distribution and other things of this nature.

Though hard numbers may be impossible to get unless changes are made, estimates speak volumes, predicting that law enforcement savings would come in between $8 billion and $16 billion. Those savings would be in tax money and in law enforcement costs.

On the other side of the coin, the legal sale of marijuana does generate revenue, as has been proven in states like Colorado, where small amounts of recreational marijuana are already legal. On the whole, the legal sales produced $4.6 billion in 2014. Just a year later, proving they weren’t a fluke, these sales jumped by 17.4 percent, hitting $5.4 billion for 2015.

Since legal marijuana is taxed like any other product, this means that the government potentially both saved and earned money because of the changes to the law over the last two years.

Right now, recreational marijuana is not legal in Florida, however, so it’s important to know your rights if you’ve been arrested.

Source: Yahoo, "Here’s a Map of Every State and Their Marijuana Laws," accessed Feb. 29, 2016

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