2016-07-20 16:10:59

Every year, the United States Congress struggles to balance the budget and falls short on eliminating debt. Partisan politics is just part of the problem. Without raising taxes, there simply doesn't seem to be a way to bring in enough revenue to cover all of the U.S. government's expenditures. The Cato Institute has proposed a possible solution to the problem--nationwide legalization of marijuana.

The Cato Institute is a think tank for the Libertarian Party, a political party that seeks to limit government interference and increase personal freedom. The Institute conducted a study back in 2010 to examine how the full nationwide legalization of marijuana would impact the American economy.

Based on data analyzed by the group, it is estimated that legal cannabis would generate $8.7 billion in tax revenue at the federal and state levels, assuming that marijuana was subject to the same type of taxes that are imposed on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products. If the numbers are accurate, it seems that legalizing marijuana could help to put extra money in the federal coffers without raising the income tax levels.

Surveys reveal that Americans are increasingly in favor of the prohibition of marijuana coming to an end. Americans who are pro legalization are now in the majority, so if U.S. lawmakers listen to their constituents, it's possible that a push for complete legalization could come in the future.

For now, efforts to legalize marijuana are in the hands of the states. Washington, D.C., Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington have already legalized cannabis for recreational use, and more than one dozen other states have medicinal marijuana laws on the books.

Although laws are becoming more lenient, there are still those who say that marijuana legalization's benefits will surely be overshadowed by the ills that it will bring to society. So far, though, what's actually happened in the five states where marijuana is legal has been positive both from a societal and economic standpoint.

Washington estimates that they will make $1.9 billion in tax revenue for the next five years due to the changes to their marijuana laws. If the actual revenues brought in reflect those numbers and the other states' economies similarly benefit, it's likely that many cash-strapped states will see the benefits of rethinking marijuana prohibition.

In the meantime, those who want to take political action are urged to make their opinions known to their state lawmakers, to their U.S. Congress Representatives, and their U.S. Senators. It's also worth considering support of libertarian candidates, as the party has made legalization of marijuana part of their platform.

Reference: WashingtonPost

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