Can Legalizing Marijuana Help Florida’s Struggling Economy?

At a time when the Florida and U.S. economies and credit markets are in a downward spiral, people and governments often have to innovate to recover. The idea of legalizing marijuana should not be considered groundbreaking, progressive thinking in 2009, but it is far from accepted as appropriate and far from a reality. However, in California, a lawmaker has proposed a bill that would legalize marijuana in that state.

The proposed law legalizing marijuana would create a system that would tax and regulate marijuana production, distribution and sales. The state would license producers and sellers who could sell marijuana to individuals over 21 years of age. The law would also allow adults to grow up to ten marijuana plants for personal use only.

This proposal is gaining traction in California partly because of the severe budgetary crisis in that state. It is estimated that the regulation and taxation of marijuana in California would bring $1.3 billion in revenues each year. Marijuana is the largest cash crop in California, and the state government is not making any money from it. There would be a corresponding savings associated with the end of the failed and expensive war on marijuana along with the reduction in inmates who are in jail on petty marijuana charges.

It is unclear if this law will pass this year. I suspect that a law legalizing marijuana will pass at some point, most likely initially in California, Oregon, Washington or a similar state. As for Florida, we face similar budgetary issues and state and local governments that expend a lot of time, effort and money going after marijuana users and sellers. The Florida economy could use the billions of dollars of revenues that legalized and taxed marijuana would bring. Will marijuana become legal in Florida? I think so. Will it happen any time soon? That is hard to say.

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