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Is Legal Marijuana The Economic Relief America Needs Post-Pandemic?

Top marijuana CEOs argue that legalization could provide the American economy a necessary shot in the arm after the coronavirus pandemic.

When the fog that is the coronavirus pandemic lifts, and the threat subsides, Americans will discover an economy in serious need of repair. Most up-to-date reports indicate that more than 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment, erasing the 22 million jobs gained since the Great Recession in 2009.

A way to get some jobs back? According to prominent cannabis CEO, marijuana legalization is a crucial part of the solution.’

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“When we all start to be able to lift our heads from this Covid experience, we are going to be faced with a scenario where a lot of jobs have gone away, a lot of economic development impact has disappeared,” Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs, told CNBC. “How are we going to bring that back? I think cannabis has to be part of that discussion.”

As Bachtell and others view it, the proof is already out there. Every state outside Massachusetts has deemed adult-use marijuana businesses as “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic. Many state governments have loosened laws around curbside pickup and dispensary delivery in both medical and recreational markets. Americans marijuana use hit an all-time high amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Around $56 billion — that’s the current value of the American marijuana market, according to Cowen estimates. The only problem? In 2020, the black market captures about 90% of those sales and they all go untaxed.

“One of the programs by the federal government right after the Great Depression was to focus on tax revenue generation,” Curaleaf Executive Chairman Boris Jordan told CNBC. “They lifted prohibition on alcohol and therefore started to tax it—and it became a major revenue generator for both the federal and the local governments around the country.”

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Marijuana advocates believe legalization could become a necessary shot in the economy’s arm. Even while capturing only 10% of the available market, the legal cannabis industry generates between 200,000 to 300,000 jobs nationwide. According to Glassdoor, marijuana had a 76% increase in job openings in 2019 compared to the previous year. If you extrapolate possible projections should marijuana become legal, the industry could provide serious economic relief in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“You can just point to the fact that we have been deemed essential, why are we not legal?” said cannabis investor Matt Hawkins, managing partner of Entourage Capital. “There is going to be a need for increased tax revenue and where else to look but at a legalized industry like cannabis, that is one of the few growth sectors in the world right now.”

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