For those who think the push to legalize cannabis only comes from stoners in smoke-filled rooms, the research might be surprising. States that allow the legal sale of cannabis products for either medical or recreational purposes have seen some unexpected benefits. This might be bad news for states in which cannabis is still against the law.

Legalizing Marijuana Means Tax Gains

Perhaps the most apparent benefit of legalizing marijuana for either medical or reaction reasons is that states can regulate the production and distribution. This allows governments to ensure quality and reduce risk from tainted products. However, it also means they can tax those who grow and purchase cannabis products, adding a new source of income.

Colorado has become the case study since legalizing marijuana. Denver alone has generated nearly $300 million of tax revenue, which has gone to city improvements. The state has also pledged tax funds to affordable housing and opioid intervention. Obviously, states that still ban cannabis are missing out on this potential income and the improvements it can fund.

Slowing the Opioid Epidemic

By giving people another option to manage chronic pain and mood disorders, states that legalize marijuana reduce the risk of residents becoming addicted to opioids. After legalizing marijuana, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada all saw a decrease in opioid-related emergency room trips. That’s certainly not the only benefit of preventing people from becoming addicted to pharmaceutical medication. Opioid prescriptions dropped in states that legalized marijuana, proving its use as a medical intervention.

Legalized Marijuana’s Impact on Crime

While it’s easy to see how states that fail to legalize marijuana are missing out on financial benefits, there are some surprising facts surrounding marijuana laws. First, a recent study finds that all types of violent crimes dropped an average of 13% in states near those states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. This suggests that the effects of legalization extend to nearby states, but it’s bad news for anyone living in a marijuana desert.

Of course, no one would suggest that legalizing marijuana makes people less violent. But perhaps removing punishment, especially incarceration, for marijuana use allows a state’s residents to cope with illness without the risk of serving time and interrupting their life.