Marijuana's Effect on the Economy

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The Workforce and Taxes

  • Drug dealers are not part of the regular workforce. A person who sells marijuana for a living is not part of the official tally of employed people. He can file for unemployment, welfare, food stamps, housing assistance and medicaid along with a whole host of other services that are intended to benefit those in true need. Drug dealers can make huge sums of money. One the one hand, they typically have money to spend on retail itmes such as cars, jewelry, new clothes and travel. On the other hand, the money that they take in is completely tax free. These people, who on paper look to be unemployed and needy, can take complete advantage of a social welfare system that they are not paying into. On the other end of this issue is the pot dealer's customers. Though there is little evidence that regular marijuana consumption leads to "amotivational syndrome," a case could be made that the dealer's most regular customers are likely not contributing to the economy in a significant way. They may not be hard working, reliable employees. They may not be high earners who contribute to the health of the economy by the use of disposable income or the payment of tax dollars.

The Legal System

  • Many drug dealers end up in jail. Of course, people in jail are of no help to themselves or their families in an economic sense. They aren't out working, earning money to pay for things. Their families often go on assistance, and the tax payers pick up the bill. Children may be taken away and raised by foster parents with tax payer money. Laws are the main source of the marijuana related issues that affect the economy. Not only are tax payer dollars used to support the jailed drug dealer's family, they also go to court costs, jail costs, and the salaries of all those people that have to deal with the enforcement of drug laws (wardens, police officers, judges and public defenders). There are also myriad court-mandated drug education and rehab programs that are supported by tax payer dollars.

Putting Money Back In

  • Marijuana can be an expensive habit. A regular smoker of high quality marijuana can spend $350 per week on her habit. Although marijuana is not physically addictive, for some people it becomes a mental crutch that is very hard to put down. As such, people who become dependent on regular marijuana consumption are spending money that could go to many other things, such as food, car payments and other bills. Even if we make the assumption that all the necessary bills are paid, it can be hard for someone who spends $1,400 per month on marijuana to get ahead financially. Unless the smoker has a very high level of income, her habit will probably put a dent in plans to buy a house or car or make other investments. People may cut spending on non necessary items in order to afford their marijuana. Money that could go towards eating out, shopping and vacations goes to the dealer, not to retail markets that provide jobs.

  • Photo Credit http://www.stockxpert.com/browse.phtml?f=view&id=460065&ref=sxc_hu
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