What Legalization Would Mean For The North Carolina Economy

What Legalization Would Mean For The North Carolina Economy

Proponents of legalizing cannabis scored major victories on election night. Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota all voted to legalize marijuana in some form in 2020. While nothing changed in North Carolina around marijuana laws, the state did see several mainstream candidates openly advocate for legalization.

States expect a major economic boost as one effect of making cannabis legal. What would legalization mean for the North Carolina economy?

Potential Gains For The North Carolina Economy From Legalization

Any new industry moving into an area has the potential to create jobs and create wealth. However, in states which have legalized cannabis, the economic impact is profound.

Legalization could have big benefits for the North Carolina economy.
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The Senate Joint Economic Committee issued a report in 2018 called The National Cannabis Economy which said, “The legalization of cannabis has significant implications for state economies, as well as the national economy. The industry totaled more than $8 billion in sales in 2017, with sales estimated to reach $11 billion this year and $23 billion by 2022. There were more than 9,000 active licenses for cannabis businesses in the U.S. in 2017, with the industry employing more than 120,000 people.”

Potential For Job Growth Everywhere

In North Carolina, this could have a tremendous impact. The state has seen job growth in recent years. However, it’s mostly concentrated in the “knowledge-based economy.” According to the 2018 North Carolina Annual Jobs Economic Report, these jobs accounted for around 40% of jobs in the state.

Legalization in North Carolina would mean new jobs in the economy.
Image courtesy of Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

These jobs tend to exclude people without university degrees. They also tend to cluster around metropolitan areas. As a result, most of the state’s economic growth has concentrated in counties like Wake and Mecklenburg.

In contrast, geography plays a much smaller role in the cannabis economy. Not only could legalized cannabis generate job and economic growth, it could do so in North Carolina’s underserved rural areas.

Savings From Legalization

North Carolina spends a lot of money arresting and jailing people for marijuana. In 2016, the state arrested 15,889 people for possessing or selling the plant. Each one of those arrests cost taxpayers money in court costs, officers’ time, and incarceration costs.

It costs $30,180 per year to house a person in prison in North Carolina. That means that the state is spending tens to hundreds of millions of dollars each year imprisoning people for cannabis.

Image courtesy of Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

However, additional costs would offset some of these savings. In the fiscal year 2019, Colorado paid nearly $15.9 million to operate its Marijuana Enforcement Division, the state’s regulatory agency.

What Would Legalization Mean For North Carolina?

The potential of cannabis legalization for the North Carolina economy is massive. NerdWallet estimated that the potential annual tax revenues for the state could range from $50 million to $100 million.

With the number of politicians in the Tar Heel State supporting legalized cannabis growing, the idea of using legalization to boost the North Carolina economy may start to gain more traction with the General Assembly soon.

Want to learn more about North Carolina’s CBD laws? Or read about how people are using CBD to cope with addictions? Stay tuned to North Carolina News Daily for more coverage.