Study: Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization in Ohio Would Generate $260M in ‘Net Benefits for Society’

According to a paper from Scioto Analysis adult-use cannabis legalization in Ohio would likely generate about $260 million in “net benefits for society,” ranging between $200 million in net costs and $1.9 billion in net benefits.  

“Allowing a market for sale of cannabis for recreational use will impact the state economy. Opening the market will allow people access to goods they would not have had otherwise, generate tax revenue for state programs, create new jobs, and reduce crime by reducing the importance of a black market in cannabis sales. At the same time, other states that have legalized recreational cannabis have seen reduced worker productivity and increased prevalence of impaired driving.” — Scioto Analysis, “Cost-Benefit Analysis of Ohio’s Recreational Cannabis Legalization,” October 2023 

Ohio voters will decide whether to enact the reforms this month. A poll from Fallon Research in September found a majority of Ohioans support the ballot proposal 59% to 32%, with 9% unsure. 

According to Scioto Analysis, Ohio would see an estimated $190 million from cannabis-derived tax revenues which would be earmarked for the Cannabis Social Equity and Jobs Fund and the Substance Abuse Addiction Fund, which the economics and public policy firm expects will “generate over $800 million of social value by themselves.” 

In a statement, Michael Hartnett, a policy analyst, said “The programs outlined in the ballot initiative have historically been very efficient ways to use public dollars, and will likely generate a lot of value for Ohioans.” 

The most significant cost monetized by the firm was the potential lost productivity of workers in certain industries.  

“Past research has shown that states that legalized recreational marijuana experience reductions in productivity amounting to roughly a 1% decrease per worker,” Scioto Analysis said in the report. “In Ohio, we calculate that this will lead to roughly $760 million worth of lost productivity in the short run.”      

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Study: Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization in Ohio Would Generate $260M in ‘Net Benefits for Society’

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