One way to examine the effects of dispensaries on local economies is to consider the impacts on states where recreational cannabis has been legalized, which currently includes Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — as well as in the District of Columbia. Before considering impacts in other states, let’s first take a look at Colorado, the first state to move to legalization in the beginning of 2014. Specifically let us consider Denver, the most populous county in Colorado.

Huge Sales and Tax Revenue

A study was conducted by University of Denver economics professor Jack Strauss, examining the economic effect of two local dispensaries. The study claims that between the two dispensaries, Evergreen Apothecary and Colorado Harvest Company, these businesses pay roughly 10 times the amount of taxes an average restaurant or retail store in the city pays. The study also approximates sales for both the stores at $11.2 million, and postulates that these businesses will pay nearly $1.5 million in state and local taxes. In an economy where the younger generation mostly contributes to restaurant and retail jobs, this is certainly a big deal and really makes the business stand out as an economic output. As for other areas, Denver is not the only place to reap these great benefits. Reported by the New York Times, Oakland, California, contributed $1.4 million, or 3 percent of the city’s total business tax revenue, from medical marijuana dispensaries last year. As a result, the surrounding cities are getting good chunks of money to put toward improvements for everyone.

Job Creation

And on that note, this provides great work opportunities for people. To quote the information found on University of Denver’s website, “Workers at Cullen’s stores (in Denver) make on average $17 an hour, get paid vacations, and 50 percent of their health care benefits are paid. “ Now how many restaurants and retail jobs will offer you that? Not too many, that’s for sure.

The quantity of jobs produced by dispensaries isn’t too shabby either. The two stores in Denver have 40 employees combined. And according to AZBusiness Magazine, a store in Phoenix named weGrow has provided anywhere between 15 and 20 full- and part-time jobs. Something else to take into consideration about these dispensaries is that they also purchase equipment and technology from other businesses, thus expanding their economic impact in an outward radius. WeGrow also hires on-site doctors for evaluations and consultations. Construction workers benefit from the new clientele. Designers benefit from the new clientele. Technicians benefit. It is claimed that about 75 indirect jobs are created just with the opening of each weGrow store.

Saves the Government Money on Prosecution

A paper was published by a Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron. In it, he stressed that the government would save 7.7 billion annually by legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana. They wouldn’t have to pay for all that goes into enforcing the prohibition. Furthermore he said the government could save an extra 6 billion if marijuana was taxed in the same manner that alcohol and tobacco are. Apparently, this paper spurred a petition signed by approximately 300 economists to call attention to Miron’s findings.

In Conclusion

The market for marijuana has existed for years; it has merely been underground and criminalized to a point where average citizens and society can’t reap any benefits from this market. According to information found on dollarsandsense.org, Nearly 23.9 million Americans use the drug semi-regularly. That’s quite a large market to ignore and not put to use for everyone’s benefit.


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