Marijuana Gold Mine

I had the following letter published in the Anniston Star today.

Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about legalizing marijuana and the amount of tax revenue it would generate. In California, it’s estimated that legal marijuana would bring $1.4 billion annually. I crunched the numbers to see how much Alabama might rake in if we also legalized marijuana.

The current number of marijuana users in Alabama is estimated to be 392,032, or 11.25 percent of the voting-age population (as of 2006.) Divide that by the current number of marijuana consumers in California, which is estimated at 4,183,136. These numbers are according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Census data.

Alabama’s 392,032 users is equivalent to 9.3 percent of California’s marijuana-consuming population. Multiply 0.093 times $1.4 billion and you get $130.2 million.

Those figures do not include money that would be made by putting Alabama farmers back to work, businesses and jobs created that cater to the marijuana industry, tourism or the hundreds of millions saved in enforcement costs.

Considering that Alabama law enforcement arrested only 2.6 percent of marijuana consumers (10,272) in 2002 at a cost of untold millions of taxpayer dollars, I think it is safe to say that marijuana prohibition has failed. It’s time Alabama considered legalizing and reaping the benefits of this untapped green goldmine.

Loretta Nall
Alexander City

Read it at the Anniston Star