BY Debra Borchardt | 12/09/13 – 04:02 PM EST
Updated from 9:18 a.m. EST with information on Uruguay’s pending legislation in the final paragraphs.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) — The economics of legalizing marijuana for recreational use has several states watching Colorado and Washington to see if revenue can grow like a weed. The latest member of the club is Portland, Maine, which just legalized pot within the city limits. A city ordinance went into effect on Friday, Dec. 6 that allows possession up to 2.5 ounces. It’s the first city on the East Coast to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
“It’s like the onset of casino gambling,” says Alan Bochstein, founder of the 420 Investor. Colorado and Washington are the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana and the money is as green as the weed.
Colorado’s Amendment 64 was expected to save $12 million a year for reduced criminal costs and generate $32 million in new revenue. Washington state says it can save $23 million a year on criminal costs, but thinks the business could deliver up to $530 million, a much higher number than the other states partly because it includes marijuana tourism estimates.
All in all, it’s no wonder other states are jonesing for this new found revenue.
The states are approaching legalization from two different angles: medicinal use and recreational use. States using the medicinal marijuana approach employ varying degrees of enforcement. Illinois passed a medical marijuana bill that is one of the strictest in the country. Patients can’t just go to a “doc in a box” for a patient card, they have to be a long time patient of a doctor to receive their card. California is known for its very lax medicinal enforcement where a headache qualifies you as a patient.
Quite a few states are entering the medicinal arena, including:
Minnesota — This state had several bills introduced this year. Senate Bill 1641 permits medical marijuana and authorizes cities to enact zoning regulations to address dispensaries. House Bill 1818 also permits medical marijuana use and authorizes rulemaking and fees. A separate measure, House File 508, doesn’t legalize marijuana, but instead gives a defense for medicinal use.
New York — Where you can smell the chiba wafting as you walk down the city streets. Newly elected New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio is in favor of legalization. Two Senate Bills and one Assembly Bill were filed this year. SB 1682 legalizes pot possession of up to eight ounces and is mostly concerned with organizations, while SB 4406 and Assembly Bill 6357 deals with the patients.
Pennsylvania — The Keystone state may become the Key Stoned state. It has both a Senate Bill 770 and a House Bill 1181 that provide for the medical use of marijuana.
Meanwhile, other states are skipping the medicinal route altogether and jumping right into recreational.
Here are the next states expected to say “don’t bogart that joint.”