How legalizing marijuana would affect Europe

The EU is responsible for the unification of many laws throughout Europe, however there aren’t any unifying laws related to marijuana, and as such the government of each country is responsible for these regulations. Because of this, there are differing points of view for each country, although the unifying shared by all is that recreational marijuana is illegal.

This is a severe contrast to America, where 15 states have legalized the purchase and consumption of marijuana. These states have not only received great economic benefits as a result of the legalization of marijuana, but a few societal benefits too. The use of medical marijuana has also changed the lives of many citizens, allowing them to cope with a variety of conditions that traditional medication was unable to treat effectively. It does come with some long-term consequences; however not enough time has passed to accurately witness or analyze them.

Legalizing marijuana in Europe may not be as easy as acquiring signatures for a ballot, as was the case in America, although there seems to be a slow shift in the direction of legalization. Europe could benefit in many ways from legalization, and it could be instrumental in recovering from the negative economic effects of COVID-19.

Job creation

There are many aspects involved with the sale of marijuana. There is farming, which would create jobs for workers lacking formal education, or those of the 7.5% facing unemployment.

There would also job creation in the distribution sector, as well as generating sales assistant positions. Indirect jobs in the financing, software development, real estate, construction and public transport sectors would also be created. In America, an estimate of 1 million jobs are expected to be created in the next 5 years, with Nevada alone generating $1.7 billion in labor income while sustaining about 41,000 jobs until 2024. California is expected to also create and sustain an estimate of 81,000 jobs while generating at least $3.5 billion in labor income.

One of the companies in California is LA Pipes who make handmade glass smoking accessories and are stocked by online retailers like Smoke Cartel, you can see their range of bongs here to get an idea of the workmanship that goes into these. The beauty of this particular example is it takes an industry which was on a decline (glassblowing) and brings it a new lease of life.

Increased legal revenue

The largest black market money source in Europe is currently marijuana. Marijuana accounts for 39% of sales, which is $12.7 billion, on the black market which is worth an estimated $32 billion, with researchers indicating it is probably more.

If the increase in legal revenue from other countries is anything to draw conclusions from, then the legalization of marijuana in Europe could significantly increase legal revenue. In America the sales of marijuana in 2019 totaled an amount over $12 billion, and could increase to $31.1 billion by 2024. Reports suggest that as a result of taxation on marijuana, that federal tax revenue could generate an estimate of $105 billion by the end of 2025.

In addition to this, Europe could save money from resources that are currently dedicated to capturing and prosecuting those who break marijuana related laws.

Reduction in crime

In countries where marijuana has been legalized, there has been reports of a reduction in crime. A lot of crime relates to the production, distribution and sale of marijuana, and in states where marijuana was legalized, there was a definitive drop in related crime rates.

In Washington State, court filings related to low-level marijuana transgressions dropped by 98% between 2011 and 2015, these numbers were mirrored in Colorado by 81%, Oregon by 96% and Alaska by 93%. Reductions in indirectly related marijuana crimes were also noted by researchers using these states as case studies. Gang related crime has fallen due to the substance now being legally available and there have also been reductions in robberies, assaults and homicides.

Possible addiction

Although marijuana is being used to effectively treat certain conditions, research indicates that a dependency to the substance can form. This research estimates that around 30% of people who smoke marijuana will form a dependency. The conditions that are being commonly treated by marijuana are anxiety, PTSD and depression. While it is effective in the short-term, it may lead to dependency in the long-term with symptoms becoming worse.

Currently there are side-effects such as short-term memory problems, decline in IQ and impaired cognitive function. Studies show that about 4 million people met the criteria in America since legalization for marijuana dependency, and of those 138,000 attempted to find substance abuse treatment. This indicates similar numbers if marijuana is legalized in Europe.

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EUToday Correspondents

EUToday Correspondents

Our team of independent correspondents, based across Europe and beyond, are at the centre of geopolitical dynamics. We are united by our commitment to free and unbiased journalism, and our devotion to the concept of true and unfettered democracy. We take our job very seriously!

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