Prop 19 Legalizing Marijuana Would Generate “Hundreds of Millions” Annually for the State According to Official Analysis

According to a new official analysis (PDF) of Proposition 19 by California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, passage of the measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana would result in increased state revenues amounting to hundreds of millions of  dollars.   From the Legislative Analyst’s Office (PDF):

To the extent that a commercial marijuana industry developed in the state, however, we estimate that the state and local governments could eventually collect hundreds of millions of dollars annually in additional revenues.

In addition to generating hundreds of millions in additional revenues for the state and local governments, the passage of Prop 19 would save the state tens of millions of dollars in incarceration costs. It  also would have the added benefit of allowing the state and local governments to redirect law enforcement efforts and jail space to deal with truly dangerous criminals.

Reduction in State and Local Correctional Costs. The measure could result in savings to the state and local governments by reducing the number of marijuana offenders incarcerated in state prisons and county jails, as well as the number placed under county probation or state parole supervision. These savings could reach several tens of millions of dollars annually. The county jail savings would be offset to the extent that jail beds no longer needed for marijuana offenders were used for other criminals who are now being released early because of a lack of jail space.

Reduction in Court and Law Enforcement Costs. The measure would result in a reduction in state and local costs for enforcement of marijuana-related offenses and the handling of related criminal cases in the court system. However, it is likely that the state and local governments would redirect their resources to other law enforcement and court activities.

This estimate of “hundreds of millions of dollars” in additional revenues as a result of legalizing marijuana is similar to a previous official estimate (PDF) by the State Board of Equalization. The SBE determined legalizing and taxing cannabis would generate roughly $1.4 billion annually for the state. Given California’s struggles with serious budget problems, there are many great things on which the state could spend those “hundreds of millions” from marijuana legalization. For example, the funds could be used to save the jobs of tens of thousand of teachers and police officers or to dramatically reduce tuition rates at public universities.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at