Source: Rant Lifestyle | By 3.11.14

These are high times indeed for the state of Colorado and state lawmakers who will rake in $2 million in taxes across the first month from marijuana sales. Over the first month, Colorado saw over $14 million worth of legal weed sold.

Toking tourism and Colorado residents have cozied up to the new law like it was a bag of Doritos after a smoke. That is excellent news for Colorado, lawmakers and other states who are looking to follow suit as well as the federal government.

What isn’t calculated is the amount Colorado has saved in prosecuting individuals for possession of marijuana or the man hours and money saved by police officers who no longer have to treat possession as a major offense.

The state has seen a 77 percent decrease in state court cases. Before marijuana was legal the state was averaging 714 arrests per month on weed-related charges. It now sees 133 with the majority of those cases being major crimes or circumventions of the law. This will save millions for the state since they will no longer have to spend tax money to arrest, prosecute and jail people brought up on charges for petty possession. It costs approximately $40,000 to house an inmate over the course of a year so those savings will add up.

Furthermore, reported usage of marijuana has not increased, staying around 10 percent so it hasn’t transformed the state into a bunch of potheads. While the transition hasn’t been as smooth as a lot of people hoped it has still gone smoother than most people expected. It isn’t like there are third graders toking up in the school bathroom like there is in California.

The fact is, marijuana could turn out to be a cash windfall for several states and not just Colorado and Washington. It wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility if marijuana becomes legal across the United States in the next twenty years after Colorado’s successful transition.

With so many cities and states facing the fiscal crunch and some, like Detroit, filing for bankruptcy, it would make a lot of sense to legalize the drug and turn it into an asset rather than a detriment. It won’t solve every problem these states face but it could free up tens upon tens of millions of dollars.

Taxes aren’t the only positive to take away from this. There is also the possibility that young men and women won’t have criminal offenses on their record, possibly prohibiting entry into colleges, the military, or from getting jobs. This could allow for thousands of young men and women to be free from fighting the stigma of criminal possession of a narcotic and allow for them to have a freer path to their future rather than being punished for life in one form or another for what might have been a dumb mistake.

There are more positives with the legalization of marijuana than negatives. More states will likely see measures on future ballots as people begin moving away from the stigma of marijuana use.