Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.

Numerous state and local governments are hoping Congress will ride to the rescue of their broken budgets. House Democrats are certainly on board, proposing nearly a trillion dollars in aid to state and local governments.

But here’s a different idea that doesn’t require bailouts, and can generate revenues – and create jobs – for years to come: getting more states to legalize marijuana. The Reason Foundation’s Geoffrey Lawrence writes the idea could not only plug leaky budgets but achieve substantial criminal justice reform at the same time:

Conservatives who have historically opposed marijuana legalization should reconsider that position. The 11 states that have already legalized, plus 33 states with medical marijuana programs, have shown they can tightly control and regulate marijuana inventory — as they do with alcohol. These states, which span the political spectrum, have not seen an increase in youth use and have been able to, at least partially, displace black-market actors.

Conservatives intuitively understand that black markets are dangerous, but they emerge whenever legitimate retailers are not able to sell legal goods. The same arguments conservatives tend to make against gun control are equally applicable to marijuana prohibition.

According to the Tax Foundation, revenues from legalized marijuana may not fil all of a state government’s fiscal needs right away, but can become a part of a long-term revenue fix. The key is for governments not to get greedy:

…the regulatory and tax structure right as brick-and-mortar dispensaries will be competing with black and gray markets, and setting tax rates too high could keep consumers in untaxed markets.

Image Credit: By Chmee2 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons