Legalizing marijuana in Canada would create thousands of jobs and become a significant new source of tax revenue, the Liberal Party says in a new draft policy paper — but only if the government can get weed prices down and quality up.
The report, from the B.C. branch of the party, estimates Canada would need a network of 2,700 retail outlets to sell to the country’s estimated three million regular pot smokers.
It recommends using provincial liquor store networks as part of the infrastructure to deliver marijuana, a similar approach to the one being taken in Washington state, where pot prohibition was ended by popular vote last fall.
“We recommend legal marijuana be sold to the public through specialty private stores and/or anywhere regulated liquor sales take place,” the report states.
But any effort to wrest the marijuana industry from the hands of organized crime will require legal pot sellers to provide a higher quality product at a lower price, the report argues.
“To be successful and prevent organized crime from maintaining a black market, the price of legal marijuana must be lower than it is now. At the same time, the product’s quality must be at least as good – if not better,” the report states.
The report cites a RAND Corporation estimate that cannabis accounts for nearly 0.3 per cent of Canada’s economy, and a Fraser Institute report estimating weed to account for two to four per cent of B.C.’s gross domestic product.
It argues that simply decriminalizing marijuana would not be enough.
“Without legalizing production, sale and consumption together, organized crime will continue to meet the market demand and law enforcement agencies and health care professionals will remain in limbo,” the report says.
Whereas Colorado and Washington state — which both ended their marijuana prohibitions in ballot initiatives last fall — cap the legal amount for pot possession at one ounce, the Liberal policy paper proposes a four-ounce limit.
“We feel this is reasonable and akin to purchasing a 40 or 60 oz. bottle of vodka or whisky a couple times a year instead of buying a small bottle each month,” the report says.
It estimates that a “regular” user of marijuana smokes one gram per day, or about an ounce per month.
Report co-author Sangeeta Lalli said a legal marijuana regime would be especially beneficial to British Columbia, which would benefit from a pot tourism industry similar to the one Amsterdam is known for.
“We’re known around the world for having good cannabis,” she said, as quoted at by Postmedia News.
Lalli told The Georgia Straight that legalization is the key to addressing safety and health concerns about pot.
“Once we legalize, then we can regulate the product,” she said.
Even as the Liberals propose lower prices for weed for everyone, the government in Ottawa appears to be moving in the opposite direction.
The Tories’ new medical marijuana law takes away the ability of licenced marijuana patients to grow their own supply, something a group representing medical pot users says will lead to higher prices and more patients seeking pot in the underground economy.
The notion that Vancouver could become a pot tourism destination a la Amsterdam is controversial. The Dutch have had mixed results with their approach to marijuana, with the country’s right-leaning government recently restricting pot sales through the issuing of a “weed pass” that can only be obtained by Dutch citizens.
But after an outcry from Amsterdam politicians and business owners about the potential negative impact on tourism, the government backed down on plans to enforce the law in the city.
$13.7 Billion Saved On Prohibition Enforcement Costs
The government would save an estimated $13.7 billion on prohibition enforcement costs and tax revenue by legalizing marijuana, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/economists-marijuana-legalization_n_1431840.html" target="_hplink">according to a paper endorsed by 300 economists</a>.
Marijuana Inmates Cost Prisons $1 Billion A Year
Inmates incarcerated on marijuana-related charges cost U.S. prisons $1 billion annually, according to a 2007 study, <a href="http://www.alternet.org/rights/47815/" target="_hplink">AlterNet reports</a>.
Marijuana Prohibition Costs Taxpayers $41.8 Billion A Year
Including lost tax revenues, a 2007 study found that enforcing the marijuana prohibition costs tax payers $41.8 billion annually, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/29/marijuana-laws-work-biz-cx_qh_1001pot.html" target="_hplink">Forbes</a> reports.
California Marijuana Crop Worth $14 Billion A Year
Marijuana growers account for <a href="http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1884956,00.html" target="_hplink">$14 billion a year in sales in California</a>, making it the state's most valuable cash crop, TIME reports.
Illegal Marijuana A $36 Billion A Year Industry
It's estimated that <a href="http://madamenoire.com/106691/capitalizing-on-the-billion-dollar-marijuana-industry/" target="_hplink">illegal marijuana is a $36 billion industry</a> in the U.S., MadameNoire reports.
One-Third Of Americans Think Legalization Would Boost The Economy
About one-third of Americans say they think <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/20/legalizing-pot-will-not-b_n_544526.html?" target="_hplink">legalizing marijuana would boost the economy</a>, according to a 2010 poll by Associated Press-CNBC.
Dispensary Ads Boost Newspapers' Revenue
The <em>Sacramento News and Review</em> saw a big boost in ad revenue when it offered advertising space for more than 60 medical marijuana dispensaries, enabling the publication to hire three additional employees, <a href="http://www.news10.net/news/local/article/144285/2/Marijuana-ads-mean-big-money-for-weekly-newspaper" target="_hplink">according to News 10</a>.
Mendocino Zip Tie Program Raised $600,000
Mendocino County, California's zip tie program aimed at regulating medical marijuana growing by charging permits for each plant raised <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/09/medical-marijuana-license-mendocino_n_1193198.html" target="_hplink">$600,000 in revenue in for the Sheriff's department</a> in 2011.
Oakland Raised More Than $1 Million In Marijuana Tax Revenue
The city of Oakland, California raised $1.3 million in tax revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries in 2011, 3 percent of the city's total business tax revenue, according to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/cities-turn-to-a-crop-for-cash-medical-marijuana.html?_r=1" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a>.
Colorado Pulls In $5 Million From Pot Sales Tax
In 2011, Colorado pulled in $5 milllion in sales taxes from medical marijuana businesses, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/cities-turn-to-a-crop-for-cash-medical-marijuana.html?_r=1" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a> reports.
Legal Marijuana Could Be $100 Billion Industry
Economist Stephen Easton estimated in 2010 that <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2010/03/legalize_mariju.html" target="_hplink">legal marijuana could be a $45 to $100 billion industry</a>, <em>Bloomberg Businessweek</em> reports.
Each weGrow Center Creates 75 Jobs
When hydroponic marijuana growing supply chain weGrow opens a new store it <a href="http://aznow.biz/small-biz/wegrow-phoenix-opens-cultivates-opportunities-arizona)" target="_hplink">creates an estimated 75 jobs</a> indirectly, according to AZBusiness Magazine.
Majority Of States Support Taxing Marijuana
More than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/20/legalizing-pot-will-not-b_n_544526.html?" target="_hplink">60 percent of states agree with taxing marijuana</a>, according to a poll by Associated Press-CNBC.
Marijuana Affects Workplace Motivation
A Norwegian study 25 years in the making came to the shocking conclusion that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/24/marijuana-use-has-adverse-affect-workplace-motivation_n_1300278.html?" target="_hplink">frequent marijuana use lowers employees' motivation at work</a>.
More Than 1,000 Dispensaries In California
There could be more than 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in California, <a href="http://www.pasadenaweekly.com/cms/story/detail/how_does_your_pot_grow/8070/" target="_hplink"><em>Pasadena Weekly</em></a> reported in 2009.
Denver Counts More Dispensaries Than Starbucks
As of July 2011, the city of Denver <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/medical-marijuana-denver-starbucks_n_891796.html" target="_hplink">counted more medical marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks franchises</a>.