While marijuana policy is largely a social issue, it is also an economic one. Extrapolating from tax dollars already collected from the legally regulated marijuana sales in Colorado, the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) estimates that national excise tax revenue could be as high $3.1 billion with prohibition repeal. While nationwide legalization would certainly provide a lucrative stream of new tax revenue, it could also cannibalize major existing industries. According to the same report by AEG, a nationwide repeal of marijuana prohibition could result in a $221.4 million annual decrease in alcohol sales.
As more states decriminalize and legalize marijuana, federal law is more likely to change. Tvert said, “with social issues like this we tend to see an evolution take place, we tend to see dominoes fall and the pace will continue to pick up.” In other words, national marijuana law reform will become increasingly more likely as more states join legalize recreational pot and join the ranks of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
To identify the last states that will legalize marijuana, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed states with the harshest marijuana laws. We only considered states where medical marijuana, with the exception of cannabis oil to treat epilepsy, is not permitted. Felony charges also needed to be possible for merely possessing the plant under certain circumstances in these states. Since marijuana law reform could be imminent even in the states with the harshest laws, we also excluded states where voter initiatives are scheduled for the near future as well as states where pro-marijuana legislation has gained support in recent months. Marijuana-related arrests per 100,000 residents through 2012 in each state came from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. In addition, we considered the estimated proportion of residents 12 years and older who reported using marijuana some time in the past year based on annualized data from 2012 and 2013, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Marijuana Policy Project provided public opinion polls based on the most recent available survey. All data on current enforcement policies and penalties were provided by NORML.
These are the last states that will legalize marijuana.