America’s legal Cannabis may be the big winner on election day with pot currently on the ballot in nine states. States that are having a hard time with budget deficits will definitely welcome the change considering legal markets are predicted to surpass $22 billion by 2020. The following five states: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will vote on recreational cannabis for adults. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota are voting for medical cannabis. Advocates believe the cannabis laws will pass in Florida and California and possibly several other states as well.

“Legalization of cannabis is one of the greatest business opportunities of our time.”

“It’s well established that the majority of Americans now believe that the responsible use of marijuana by adults should not be a criminal offense,” stated Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The Pew Research Center released two national surveys in mid-October that confirmed 57 percent of U.S. adults say pot should be legal compared to 60 percent that were opposed a decade ago. Following the legalization of recreational use of weed in Colorado and Oregon 3 years ago; support for legalization reached an all-time high. The latest Gallup Poll reflected support for legalizing cannabis is at 60 percent reaching record heights. Tax revenue generated from legal sales surpasses predictions

It is way too early to officially rate the general impact to society in states where marijuana has been legalized. A recent report from the Drug Policy Alliance states that it has been “so far, so good” in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Washington, D.C. They reported less cannabis arrests, young people smoking weed did not increase significantly and traffic fatality rates have remained stable.

There is; however, strong data on the total sales and tax revenue generated by this flourishing phenomenon. As per a recent report from the ArcView Market Research and New Frontier; sales from legal cannabis went up last year on a national level from $4.6 billion in 2014 to $5.7 billion. Recreational sales went up to $1.2 billion by the end of 2015, up from $374 million in 2014.

The report predicts heavy sales growth this year, with retail sales hitting $7.1 billion, up about 26 percent from 2015. By 2020, the report says, legal market revenue are forecast to surpass $22 billion.

“Legalization of cannabis is one of the greatest business opportunities of our time and it’s still early enough to see huge growth,” stated Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group, in the report.

The legal marijuana business has also created tens of thousands of jobs nationwide.

“We’re seeing a massive transformation from an illicit economy worth tens of billions of dollars into a legal economy that will probably be worth even more than that,” stated Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that supports the legalization of cannabis.

Looking at the numbers

Tax income collected in Colorado ($121 million), Washington ($427 million) and Oregon ($40 million) have surpassed initial prediction. The report stated Cannabis tax revenue in Colorado was three times the amount that of alcohol and 14 percent more than casino revenue and they predict it will overshadow cigarette tax dollars by 2020.

The extra income is only a needle in the haystack according to Joe Henchman, vice president for legal and state projects at the Tax Foundation.

California; do or die

The focus is on California as voters there are asked to approve Proposition 64; the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Medical cannabis has already been legalized there. This would allow individuals to grow marijuana at home and give municipalities the authority to allow recreational weed store-fronts. This election may be a significant factor in making it impossible for Congress to keep ignoring the issue. According to the most recent polls, Prop 64 is expected to pass.

Gallup noted, “If recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California this year, many other states will likely follow, because the Golden State often sets political trends for the rest of the U.S.”

Taylor West, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, believes this election will be “a tipping point” that makes it impossible for Congress to keep ignoring the issue. “If all nine initiatives were to pass, we’d have approximately 62 percent of the US population living in a state where medical or adult-use cannabis access is legal. That’s huge,” she said.

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