Since the legalization of weed began in the mid-'90s, the industry of legal pot has grown exponentially. Four states allow recreational purchases of weed, with a number of others that either allow for medical sales or have decriminalized small amounts. Because of that, pot industry jobs are more numerous than ever, and tax revenues are growing by the day.
But even with legalization, there's a lot about the industry of which many people aren't aware. For one thing, most people don't realize how truly enormous legal pot has gotten. The industry is worth billions, and could be as big as the NFL within a few years. But even so, some states still have harsh penalties for possessing even small amounts. And even with recreational weed being legal, medical pot still outsells it because of taxes.
Here are some interesting facts about legal pot that you might not have known - or maybe you did, but were too stoned to remember.
Legalizing Pot Appears To Lower Crime
While the sample size is small, numbers from Colorado's first year with legal recreational pot show not only no increase, but actually a decrease in crime. Total burglaries in 2013 in Denver totaled 5,094. In 2014, with weed legal, that number decreased about 10 percent to 4,594. Reported robberies in 2013 totaled 1,137 and decreased three percent to 1,099 for 2014.
However, arrests for substance violations in 2013 totaled 2,349 and increased almost 10 percent to 2,574 arrests for 2014. Almost all of these were for public use of pot, which police began enforcing more strictly.
The Legal Weed Industry Doubled In Value In One Year
According to a 2013 report from ArcView Market Resarch, the legal pot industry was worth about $1.53 billion that year. By the next year, according to the same firm, its value had virtually doubled, jumping to $2.7 billion.
Pot Is Essentially Legal In North Korea
One would think that substance use would be severely punished in North Korea. However, pot is seen as an accepted part of life, especially in the military. Smoking "leaf tobacco," as it's called, is popular among young soldiers with no access to liquor who are looking to wind down. The plant grows wild in some parts of the country, is smoked publicly with no repercussions, and it's possible to buy huge bags of pot in public markets.
Weed Could Be Bigger Than Football
If the weed industry continues growing at its current rate, and it becomes legal at the federal level, it could be worth as much as $35 billion in 2020. This would be three times more than the revenue brought in annually by the NFL.