For a recent economics project, I researched the economic benefits of legalizing marijuana in the United States. During the course of my project, I learned some very interesting things about the industry.

As of October 2017, a total of 28 states have now legalized medical marijuana, eight of which have approved recreational sale and use.

The legal marijuana sector currently employs around 150,000 people and is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. Cannabis comes in a variety of products, including cookies, candies, drinks, sprays and lotions. Sales from these products see high taxes in states where they are legal.

In Colorado, marijuana excise and sales taxes combined were $121.2 million in 2015, expected to surpass cigarette revenues by 2020.

The medical benefits of cannabis are widely proven. It is known to provide relief from epileptic seizures, glaucoma, and anxiety as well as pain relief from various other causes.

There are many documented cases of people, even children, using the drug to live without suffering from intense pain.

The variety of available forms provide different types of the medicine; most of which do not get you “high.”

The substance is controlled, like other prescription drugs one’s doctor would recommend.

The clearest economic effects of legalization are on unemployment and gross domestic product, or GDP (production output p/yr). The number of jobs this industry can create is astronomical.

It can provide jobs in areas such as growing, supervising, extracting, cooking, producing, packaging, and delivering, etc.

Not only will there be more opportunities for employment, but more people in the labor force.

People who were convicted of marijuana offenses and people illegally performing these jobs in the marijuana industry would not have previously been included in the labor force.

Also, all of the marijuana products produced in the country per year would be counted, which would increase the US’s GDP.

However, this clear economic and medical growth includes some downsides, such as loss of workplace productivity, crime increases, and treating people for health problems/addiction.

Also, legalizing this drug could potentially increase other illegal drug use.

Assuming marijuana is legalized with the same guidelines as alcohol, it would presumably include the same issues, such as addiction and DUI.

Are the economic and health benefits enough to outweigh these problems?

Just something to think about!


Until next time!


Jenna Schmidt is a senior at North Pocono High School. Please email any ideas for future articles to