Legalizing Cannabis Could Yield “Notable Tax Revenue”

The United Kingdom might soon legalize cannabis for recreational and medical use. In addition to quickly turning public opinion, a leaked report from the UK Treasury reveals what Washington and Colorado already know: that legalizing cannabis could yield “notable tax revenue.”

Prime Minister David Cameron is publicly against legalization and has echoed in interviews many baseless old tropes against cannabis. As the leader of the UK government, he has tremendous power to set policy priorities and influence legislation, but much like his American counterparts, he cannot stop forever an idea who’s time has come.

The Treasury study, commissioned by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, relied heavily on a study published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, which estimated the annual tax revenues somewhere between £500m and £800m. (If you are interested in the full report, you can download it here.)

In addition to hundreds of millions of pounds of new tax revenue, the UK would save somewhere between £55m and £147m in their criminal justice budget, and improve the “employment trajectories” of the thousands of individuals no longer being arrested for drug related crimes.

It is very difficult to prognosticate all of the economic benefits that will come from legalization, and even harder to summarize, but those benefits are clearly real and virtually assured. These studies go a long way to normalizing and supporting the validity of these economic arguments for legalization.

I look forward to seeing how influential these studies become, and how far their reach spreads throughout the British Commonwealth and the European Union. We will keep an eye out for any new developments and keep you abreast.