Despite a 45-year long War on Drugs, it is estimated that the total market for cannabis in the United States is $50Billion per year. Hold that number in your head.
it is also estimated that the total legal cannabis sales were $6.7 Billion in 2016 and could become as high as $22 Billion by 2021 (just 3 1/2 years from now).
This means that today the Black Market has been reduced to $43.3 Billion ($50B minus $6.7B), and by 2021, that black market will be reduced to $28Billion.
Most Americans would call that progress. Most Americans... except Republican members of the US Congress.
Today, The Hill reports "Several lawmakers said Wednesday that GOP leaders won’t allow the full House to vote on an amendment that bars the Justice Department from pursuing states that have legalized medical [cannabis]. Without legislation, states would lose protection they have enjoyed for the past four years, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions could begin his long-sought crackdown on the rapid expansion of legalized pot."
If Congress does not act to extend this protection provided by the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, and the federal government begins a crackdown on the cannabis industry, here is a very short list of the things America will lose:
Cannabis is approved in 29 states and the District of Columbia as treatment for a range of the worst diseases and illnesses known the man, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain (affects 100 Million Americans), childhood epilepsy, and dozens more. These medicines would be denied to sick and dying Americans
A strict and expensive licensing process - with penalties for failing to follow regulations, protects our children because it keeps dispensaries from selling to anyone underage (usually 21). Reverting to all-black-market would ensure street dealers would sell to minors
Opioid deaths are estimated to cause "A death toll equal to 9/11 every three weeks". In states where cannabis is legal, that figure is reduced by up to 30% - these lives would no longer be spared with full prohibition.
The quality and safety of cannabis is regulated by government agencies, protecting the health and welfare of medicinal and recreational users. Street dealers provide no such assurances.
The US spends $40 Billion each year on drug prohibition. A year in California prison now costs more than a year at Harvard (LA Times). These irresponsible and unnecessary expenditures would continue with Prohibition.
$22 Billion in sales, taxed at 20%, generates $4.4Billion in taxes. But that's just the straight arithmetic - it is estimated that the direct, indirect and induced economic effects on the state of Colorado economy alone (taxes, wages, personal spending, etc.) is $2.39Billion, and generates 18,000 new jobs. These taxes and jobs would disappear.
Business Insider reports that while legal cannabis markets currently employ 100,000 to 150,000 Americans, "A new report from New Frontier Data, a business intelligence firm focused on cannabis, projects the legal market will create more than a quarter of a million jobs by 2020." Bye bye jobs, taxes, training, spending, benefits, and careers.
We could go on and on. We can only hope that GOP members of the House will make the right choice and re-approve the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment.