By legalizing marijuana, the state could simultaneously reduce the cost of the drug by 40 percent and net NIS 1.6 billion ($450 million), according to a study published Wednesday by an economic policy think tank.
“Recognizing the enormous financial gains that would come from legalization demands that the government take a serious look at the proposal to legalize cannabis use under specific guidelines,” paper co-author Yarden Gazit said, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“There is no disputing that if the public is able to get past the wholly negative misperceptions associated with marijuana usage and appreciate the potential benefits with limited social or healthcare costs, this is an idea that needs open-minded and serious re-examination at this time.”
The study, by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, showed that if marijuana were legalized and taxed at a similar rate to cigarettes, it would yield about NIS 950 million (268 million USD) in taxes, while at the same time, it could save the state the NIS 700 million (198 million USD) it spends on enforcement every year.
The study also found that 275,000 Israelis adults used cannabis over the past year, and 75% of the people surveyed said they believed marijuana had a legitimate medical use. However, only 26% favored its legalization versus 64% who opposed it.
The survey, conducted by Kevoon, interviewed 500 people and reflected a representative sample of the Jewish population with a maximum sampling error of 4.5%, according to JTA.