Legalizing Marijuana Makes It Cheaper — And That's a Good Thing
Making something illegal doesn't make people stop wanting it, and where there's demand, there's inevitably supply. When it comes to marijuana, legal restrictions on the supply side make production more costly and more dangerous. It should come as no surprise, then, that Washington state has seen weed prices plummet since legalizing production and sale, as the Washington Post reported.
"[Prices] are now steadily falling at about 2% per month," Steve Davenport at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, who helped gather and analyze data on Washington state, told the Post. "If that trend holds, prices may fall 25% each year going forward."
In 2012, the state approved Initiative 502, sanctioning licensed, regulated production, distribution and sale of marijuana, which began in 2014. According to numbers released for the week of April 27, 2016, the Liquor and Cannabis Board has issued 687 producer and processor licenses; Initiative 502 set each license cost at $266 upon application and $1,062 to renew each year.
While cheaper weed likely does generate less tax revenue, as the Post pointed out, legalization has had some notable benefits in Washington.
When marijuana is legally available, "bargain-basement prices undercut the black market," in the Post's words. It removes a chunk of the criminal element from the equation, as consumers look to licensed dispensaries and producers rather than buying what's ultimately supplied by drug cartels. That means less crime, which in turn means fewer people going to prison. Legalization