Although there will be no marijuana legalization choices on this years November ballot, a new report shows that it could be in the state’s best interest to get one on there as soon as possible. The report began when such a measure was plausible, and before Show-Me Cannabis, the state’s legalization campaign leaders, had to abandon their efforts for a 2012 ballot.
The group commissioned the study from Dr. Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University economist, according to the Riverfront Times. He found the state of Missouri could come out on top of $149 million. Much of that money would be in savings—from not having to chase, arrest, and prosecute marijuana offenders. The rest, $59 million, would be generated from taxing the legal pot like we already do cigarettes and alcohol.
In all, the state would save an estimated $90 million by not having to arrest pot offenders. In 2011 alone, there were more than 22,000 marijuana arrests made in the state- more than 91% of these were for mere possession charges.
While you wouldn’t think pot possession to be a serious arrest-worthy crime, it is just that in the eyes of Missouri law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts.
Miron’s figures have been disputed—both for being too high and for being too low (depending on who you ask). He replies by saying the exact dollar amount isn’t what’s important here, but the fact that the issue could save the state millions.
It isn’t clear if the Show Me Cannabis group intends to try again to get a legalization effort on the ballot, but there is a good chance that it will. It was just this last May when they realized they were short about 144,000 signatures and would have to abandon the effort this year. Now, however, the group and other advocates within the state can watch and learn from the hopeful successes or failures of campaigns happening in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.
“I don’t think we should care about the shape of this, the crucial thing to me is making it legal rather than illegal,” said Miron. “The main thing I hope people think about is, ‘Why should the government be intervening with individuals using marijuana?”
Until any legalization efforts are passed, marijuana remains illegal and smokers risk arrest and prosecution. If you are charged with a marijuana offense, we may be able to help. Call today to discuss the details of your case and your legal options.