Written by Kevin Akpan, SSDP Stories Intern
With the 2014 state elections bookmarked as a win for drug policy reform, 2016 is looking to be an even bigger year for marijuana legislation. There may be as many as a dozen states proposing some type of marijuana initiative in 2016, including one of the most important states for the marijuana movement: California.
California not only has the largest general population in the country, but also contains the largest population of people age 25 and up. Within this population, 7% admitted to using marijuana in the past month, which ranks 8th in the nation. Hypothetically, if California were to legalize and regulate marijuana at a tax rate of 25%, they are estimated to earn over half a billion dollars in tax revenue per year. This money could be put towards the state’s subpar public education system,community improvement, and assistance for the homeless. Marijuana legalization would also bring an entirely new industry to California, creating a much needed job market in a state with the third highest unemployment rate in country.
Various organizations in the state have been gathering support and funding for a legitimate 2016 campaign which, if successful, could prove to be a decisive state for the entire marijuana movement. California is an incredibly large state, making it difficult for any campaign. It also makes it ideal for gauging the feasibility of such legislation, and the possibility of similar laws passing in smaller states.
If California’s profit from regulation comes anywhere near its projection, other states will likely follow suit, and cannabusiness’ could soon be budding everywhere. California’s 2016 state elections will be a pivotal one not only for the state itself, but for the entire nation.