A group of researchers in Wisconsin recently took an in-depth look at what might happen if the state legalized medical marijuana. And their findings are very promising for those in favor of medical cannabis.
Specifically, the research project concluded that the state of Wisconsin would see a net benefit of more than $1 billion if it made medical marijuana legal.
Interestingly, the researchers found that the state would benefit even more if it also decriminalized marijuana.
New Research on Medical Marijuana in Wisconsin
The study came as an extensive cost-benefit analysis of what medical marijuana would look like in Wisconsin.
To generate their data, researchers ran through a number of complex models designed to project a legal medical marijuana market extending out five years into the future.
Similarly, they also drew on current stats from other weed-legal states about marijuana legalization.
And in the end, they found that if Wisconsin legalized medical marijuana, the state would see big-time financial gains.
This value would come through a number of different channels. For example, researchers said that medical marijuana would reduce costly and deadly opioid addiction.
Somewhat counterintuitively, the study also found that states with legal medical marijuana tend to see fewer traffic fatalities. This would also decrease overall healthcare costs in the state.
Decriminalization is Even Better
And in what is good news for legalization advocates, the study also found that adding decriminalization into the mix, alongside medical marijuana, would produce slightly better results.
Specifically, researchers concluded that medical marijuana plus across-the-board decriminalization would yield net financial gain of $1.14 billion.
The extra value of decriminalization would come from avoiding the various costs involved in enforcing current cannabis prohibition laws.
“We also find that legalizing medical marijuana with decriminalization of marijuana possession yields net benefits with a net present value of $1.14 billion,” researchers wrote.
Given the added benefits of decriminalization, researchers working on the project ultimately advised state lawmakers to take both actions.
“Accordingly, we recommend that the State of Wisconsin adopt legislation to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize the possession of small quantities of marijuana,” they wrote.
Cannabis Laws in Wisconsin
Currently, Wisconsin is one of the few remaining states with no form of legal marijuana. But things could be starting to change.
At the beginning of the year, Tony Evers took over as governor. And almost immediately, he announced his support of full legalization.
In particular, he said he wanted to include the early steps of legalization in his state budget for the year.
More recently, Representative Melissa Sargent announced her intention to propose new legislation aimed at legalizing cannabis in the state.
Rep. Sargent has brought forth similar legislation in the past. And so far, nothing has materialized.
But this year, she should have the added support of Gov. Evers. And even more promising, a recent survey from Marquette University Law School found that 59 percent of Wisconsin adults support legalization.