According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), cannabis legalization has not only decreased federal prison costs, but it also may trim the deficit of $7.3 billion through revenue from businesses.
Many in Congress hope the CBO report will get the attention of those who don’t support the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. Though it passed the US House this past Friday, it needs to get through the Republican-majority Senate in order to become law. And, frankly, the odds of this happening are quite slim.
Within the House, only 5 Republicans supported the MORE Act, with 158 opposing it. Compare that to the 222-6 margin support of the Democrat vote.
Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Portland, Oregon-based Democrat, hopes the CBO report will change some perspective. “It shows that the MORE Act would reduce 73,000 person-years of prison time,” he told Portland Business Journal. “It would increase revenues by $13.7 billion. It would provide $3 billion for job training and legal aid to people harmed by the War on Drugs. While doing all of this, it would reduce the deficit by $7.344 billion.”
We’ve known for some time that legal cannabis has a way to spruce up the economy. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent economic recession go as far as to show how much cannabis can financially help communities.
In quarter-three of this year, Illinois garnered over $100 million in tax revenue alone thanks to legal cannabis. California recorded nearly the same amount ($84.4 million) before the pandemic even hit.
With our economy on thin ice thanks to the novel coronavirus, it would only make sense for the federal government to start taking federal legalization seriously. People need job opportunities, generations of families have suffered from discrimination laws concerning cannabis, and local governments are in desperate need of financial relief to keep their communities safe during this difficult time.
Unfortunately, most politicians have their priorities in the wrong places and, even with the CBO report, chances are the MORE Act won’t pass the Senate.
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