After decades of prohibition, a number of countries around the world are now legalizing the use of cannabis. Cannabis is actually the most consumed illegal drug in the world. It’s very clear that the prohibition laws haven’t worked. Many governments are now starting to open things up. Even though there are still a few regulations that govern the cultivation and use of cannabis, the product is now available more freely than it used to be.
The US and Canada have largely been leading the way in the legalization of cannabis. European countries too are now discussing the possibility of lifting these age-old bans on the product. The debate though on the legalization of cannabis has largely focused on the potential medical benefits that it offers. Not many people are talking about the potential economic impact that this product could have.
First, the global cannabis market is expected to be worth at least $22 billion by 2020. The impact on individual countries is also expected to be huge. Spain, for example, is thinking of legalizing the medical and recreational use of cannabis. A proposal to do so is already in front of the Spanish parliament. Although Spanish lawmakers are hardly considering the economic impact of legalizing cannabis, there’s real potential for revenue.
The Faculty of Psychology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) for instance estimates that the Spanish treasury could receive nearly $3.71 billion in taxes each year from the cannabis industry. This will happen if indeed the parliament approves the medical and recreational use of marijuana. The analysis also shows that Spain would need over 100,000 new workplaces in the cannabis industry to satisfy the demand in the market. The yearly demand for cannabis in Spain stands at 820,597 kilograms. This means that the industry can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for the economy.
A lot of people too in the country are in favor of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. A recent survey done by the Spanish Public Centre for Sociological Research (CIS) found that at least 84% of Spanish citizens were in favor of medical cannabis legalization. Another 47% said that they favored full legalization that would make recreational marijuana available freely. However, Spain is not the only country that has taken steps to legalize the medical and recreational use of marijuana.
Countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and others have already started to consider proposals that would deregulate cannabis in their countries. After all, cannabis remains one of the most widely used illegal drugs in the EU. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction, at least 17.2 million young people in the region have used marijuana in 2017. This represents a total of 14.1% of the entire population in the region.
France, Italy, Czech Republic, and Spain have the highest number of cannabis consumers respectively. Authorities in the EU think that legalizing the drug could have many negative consequences. But the economic incentive to do so is quite alluring. Besides, legalizing cannabis will significantly paralyze the criminal networks involved in the trade.