London alone 'could generate £166m per year' from taxing cannabis
New York and London could generate significant tax revenue if cannabis was made legal, according to a new study detailing the cost of marijuana in 120 cities across the globe.
The study included locations where cannabis was legal, illegal and partially legal and looked into the price of the drug per gramme in each city to calculate how much tax revenue could potentially be generated by the city if it was to legalise marijuana.
"Take New York City for instance, which has the highest consumption level in the study at 77.44 metric tons of cannabis per year," said Uri Zeevi, chief medical officer at Seedo, which published the 2018 Cannabis Price Index on Wednesday.
"If they taxed marijuana at the average US cannabis tax level, the city could make $156.4m in potential tax revenue per year. This is equivalent to providing nearly 3 months worth of free school meals to every single public school kid in New York City," he added.
London, with its £6.44 average price tag per gramme and its annual consumption of 31.4 metric tonnes, was poised to make as much as £37.95m per year if taxed in the same way the drug was in the US, or a whopping £166.15m per year if taxed at the same rate as tobacco products.
2018 UK Cannabis Price Index
The study revealed that Cairo, Egypt would gain the most tax revenue if it were to legalise cannabis and tax it the same as the nation does cigarettes at £269.41m per year, while Singapore would gain the least at around £100,000 per annum, mostly based on the city's low consumption.
For cities where cannabis is partially legal, Bangkok, Thailand has the most expensive product at £17.37 per gramme, while Quito, Ecuador has the least expensive at 94p.
Tokyo, Japan has the most expensive cannabis of all cities where the drug is illegal at £22.86, Jakarta, Indonesia has the least expensive at £2.65, despite being classed as a Group 1 drug with harsh sentences such as life imprisonment and the death penalty.
"That illegal cannabis use is so high in countries that still carry the death penalty, such as Pakistan and Egypt, those in power ought to see how desperately new legislation is needed," continued Zeevi.
"By removing the criminal element from marijuana, governments will then able to more safely regulate production, take away power from underground gangs, and as we’ve shown in this study, generate huge tax revenues," he continued.