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The Winners and Losers of Marijuana Legalization


Marijuana sellers

The most obvious profit center arising from the legalization of marijuana is the cultivation and sale of the product to consumers.

Since pot is currently outlawed at the federal level, it's difficult for economists to pin an exact figure on the size of the black market. However, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron has estimated the overall size of the marijuana economy, which includes both illicit sales and legal ones made in the 21 states (including Washington, D.C.) that allow medical marijuana, at around $20 billion per year with the majority share going into the black market. A 2006 study out of George Mason University put annual domestic cultivation at somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 million pounds.


Private prisons & drug treatment centers

The prison-industrial complex is an approximately $3 billion per year industry that houses about one out of every 10 inmates in the country. The biggest private prison firm, Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW ) , earned $1.7 billion last year.

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