Michigan has long been known for its gorgeous lakes, Motown records, and of course, the automobile industry. But ever since the deindustrialization of the 70’s and 80’s and the shipping of jobs overseas, Michigan has been long overdue for an economic boost. Enter cannabis.
Since approving a ballot measure for recreational use in 2018, Michigan has enjoyed $271 million in tax revenue for the state.
To give some perspective, Michigan sold around $1.3 billion worth of marijuana in 2021 alone, showing the sheer explosion of sales in recent years. And it’s likely not stopping anytime soon. If California’s marijuana market growth can be mimicked, then Michigan could see a 50% increase in marijuana sales next year as states all over the nation are shattering records. And yet, despite record breaking profits, consumers aren’t shouldering the burden, as the production of cannabis continues to drop.
According to MRA spokesman David Harns, around $131 million will be going to a cannabis excise fund, which subsidizes programs that improve public education and infrastructure. An additional $115 million will go to the state’s general fund.
While the pandemic has unfortunately increased drug and alcohol use, lawmakers are hopeful that marijuana use is replacing traditional opioids and painkillers that have devastated American communities, especially in the midwest and Appalachia.
Politicians campaigning on marijuana legalization and the end of prohibition have argued that the direction of these funds (and new jobs) ought to go to communities most affected by the failed War on Drugs. And while these legal states enjoy their revenue from legalization, cannabis is still federally a Schedule 1 drug, alongside the likes of heroin and MDMA. This scheduling is used in the justification for the high number of arrests and convictions for cannabis consumption, and a big contributor to the nation’s mass incarceration problem.
Late last year Governor Whitmer of Michigan went a step further by joining 22 other governors in asking Congress to adopt a law that would make banking and credit easier and more accessible for cannabis businesses. This would close loopholes in the current cash-only marketplace, while also increasing more opportunities for private investment. So while the future of federal cannabis legalization hangs in the balance, individual states like Michigan have demonstrated that normalization of cannabis laws have created a massive windfall in tax revenue and job creation alike.