Today, the 20th of April marks an unusual date in the international calendar when cannabis activists across the world celebrate “4/20” or International Cannabis Day.
Last year approximately USD $1.5 Billion worth of medicinal and recreational cannabis was sold lawfully in Colorado.
Cumulatively, that amounts to almost USD $4.5 Billion in legal sales since regulation commenced on 1st January 2014. However, it is the tax revenue from sales which has captured the attention of state houses throughout the U.S. and beyond.
Since regulation commenced, Colorado has generated $683 million in additional revenue, with last year’s total amounting to USD $247 million, the majority of which is earmarked for public school funding.
Additionally, there are now approximately 18,500 people working either directly or indirectly in the legal cannabis sector in that state.
Another interesting point is that the price of a gramme of cannabis in the regulated states has been declining over the last eighteen months and the purchase price in Denver now averages about $7.79, which is in stark contrast to the$21.63 (€17.50) which a gramme commands on the illicit market in Dublin.
Whatever way you look at it; the sliding price has had the added bonus of pushing the criminal gangs out of the cannabis market in Colorado as the margins are no longer viable there.
The data from Colorado paints a rather bleak picture of just how much prohibition is costing Ireland not just in terms of revenue but also the day to day costs of prohibition in terms of prosecutions, Garda manpower hours, and court time.
The actual size of Ireland’s illicit market in cannabis is anyone’s guess; estimates range from €700 million to €1 Billion. Statistics from the CSO tells us that there were approximately 16,880 controlled drug offences in 2017.
Some 56 percent of those were prosecutions for possession of cannabis for personal use only under Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977-2017.
To put this in plain language, the majority of drug prosecutions are of individuals who possess cannabis for personal use. In a regulated market, that figure would dramatically drop saving the state a considerable amount of money.
Furthermore, the cost of prohibition would be reversed into a tax positive as revenues from regulated sales would accrue to the state.
Within the next few years, several European states such as the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Germany are likely to introduce regulation for adult use. The question is, what impact will this process of regulation have on the Irish government?
The Irish State regrettably has a dubious reputation for being an outlier for social conservatism when common sense dictates otherwise.
Given the sea-changes happening elsewhere, the government cannot afford to stand still as other states join The Green Rush and reap the enormous economic benefits that accrues from regulation.
The solution is for the Government to introduce a comprehensive piece of legislation which regulates cannabis for both medical and adult use.
To arrive at that point the government must accept that prohibition of cannabis has failed.
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Source: Money In The Pot | Broadsheet.ie