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Legalizing Weed Would Make Texas $500 Million a Year in Tax Revenue, New Report Says

Legalizing marijuana could make Texas beaucoup bucks.EXPAND
Legalizing marijuana could make Texas beaucoup bucks.
Photo by Add Weed on Unsplash

Legalizing ganja would mean green for Texas, according to a new report released Monday by Vicente Sederberg LLP, a national firm specializing in cannabis law and policy. On top of creating up to 40,000 new jobs, the state would rake in more than half a billion dollars annually in new tax revenue.

A regulated cannabis market would be a boon for Texas, said Shawn Hauser, a partner at Vicente Sederberg, who also heads the firm's Austin office.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue and tens of thousands of new jobs would be especially helpful in overcoming the losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hauser said in a news release. “Texas is leaving an enormous amount of money on the table by keeping cannabis illegal."

Giving the green light to purple haze sure sounds like a win-win, but the state’s stoners shouldn’t get their hopes up just yet. Even though Texas legalized hemp last year, Gov. Greg Abbott banned the sale of smokable hemp flowers in August. (Hemp is cannabis without THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Some users smoke hemp flowers for the health benefits of CBD, another chemical in the plant.)

More than 1.5 million adult Texans over the age of 21 use cannabis every month, according to the report. If Texas were to regulate marijuana for adult use, it would generate around $2.7 billion per year in cannabis sales.

Plus, the state would make more than $1.1 billion per biennium in new tax revenue, the report shows. The move would also raise an additional $10 million annually through business licensing fees, which would help counteract the expense of administering a regulatory program.

Enforcement costs are significant, considering the more than one million Texas adults who regularly use marijuana, said Dwight Clark, a senior policy analyst at Vicente Sederberg, who previously worked in the Texas Legislature.

"If cannabis were regulated, the revenue from license fees and taxes would easily cover the costs of administrating the system and enforcing regulations,” he said in the news release. “Criminal justice resources could then be redirected toward other, more pressing matters.”

If weed were made legal, it would end prosecutions and arrests for low-level cannabis possession offenses, the report shows, which would save Texas around $311 million each year.

Between 20,000 and 40,000 new jobs would be created, too, which is key considering the state’s sky-high unemployment. In September, the rate shot up to 8.3% after it had dipped from its previous high of 13.5% in April, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

The report also shows that the move would create tens of thousands of ancillary jobs, such as work for contractors and construction firms, HVAC installers and manufacturers, and electrical and water service providers. On top of that, it would bolster the hospitality industry, especially in tourist towns.

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Following the report’s release, a journalist for Marijuana Moment tweeted in favor of Texas’ legalization. To that, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis responded with a witty comeback – at least for an elected official.

“Yes BUT it would reduce tourism to Colorado,” Polis said, “so make sure to consider Colorado first in any Texas decisions.”

Sweet burn.

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