Legalizing marijuana in Michigan would help the state economy and citizens. A group of Michigan citizens hope to accomplish this by gathering enough signatures to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the 2012 voting ballot.
When a product that consumers want in large quantities is made illegal, the product will be sold in black markets regardless of legality. Whether or not the product is harmful, the product will go untaxed by the government, resulting in the loss of potential tax revenue. Marijuana is no different.
The U.S. is estimated to lose more than $1 billion annually in tax revenues because of marijuana prohibition, according to www.slate.com. According to CNN figures, Michigan loses approximately $32 million each year in lost tax revenues for the same reason. This lost tax revenue could be spent on things Michigan citizens need, like schools, bridges and health care.
Michigan spends about $35,000 per prisoner annually to hold them in prison. With five percent of Michigan inmates behind bars for marijuana charges, Michigan taxpayers pay around $85 million per year to keep marijuana users off the street.
Not only does Michigan lose money in lost tax revenues from marijuana prohibition, Michigan also loses money by using taxpayer funds to keep many non-violent marijuana users off the streets. Legalizing marijuana in Michigan would reverse the negative economic effects associated with criminalizing marijuana.
Michigan could tax marijuana, adding $32 million in new state revenue that could be spent on the dire needs of Michigan citizens. Michigan would also save $85 million associated with locking up marijuana users in Michigan. This is a total of $117 million in new state revenue that didn’t exist under marijuana prohibition.
Critics of marijuana legalization efforts say marijuana is bad for a person’s health and for that reason alone and should remain illegal. This hasn’t been proven conclusively.
Marijuana’s main component, THC, has been found to inhibit the cell growth of various tumors in rats. Even more recently, a University of California-San Francisco study found that marijuana smokers didn’t have the same reduced lung function that occurs in tobacco smokers.
Whether you smoke pot or not, marijuana legalization will bring money into the state’s treasury and also let marijuana users contribute to society by paying taxes instead of being thrown into prison.
If Michigan wants to start fixing its struggling economy, legalizing would be a first large step in the right direction.