The marijuana multiplier effect

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Public sentiment is currently quite a way away from being conducive to drug-legalisation in its entirety. However, opinion concerning marijuana laws around the world is shifting and, since it is one of the most popular substances in the UK, legalisation (or at least decriminalisation) is certainly feasible. It’s worth examining some of the economic consequences of the oft-ignored behavioural implications of marijuana usage. So, besides the fact that many marijuana producers would open up, jobs would be created, marijuana would be safer, policing costs would decrease and there would be less crime, there are common behavioural symptoms of marijuana usage such as that which is colloquially referred to as ‘the munchies’, the medicinal, therapeutic effects and also the potential for enhancement of creativity.

The ‘munchies’ is characterised by increased hunger, thirst and a heightened sensitivity to smells and taste. This peculiar behavioural phenomenon often leads users to indulge in both a greater quantity and variety of goods that they normally would not. In fact, if marijuana usage was legalised then the increase in its usage would also be accompanied by an increase in the consumption of goods and services that are associated with the behavioural changes (or, at the very least, changes in patterns of consumption would occur).

There is also potential for an increase in productivity from the increased happiness or well being that could accompany marijuana usage since many would be able to fully enjoy the medical benefits (health being an obvious, important component of well being) and some would simply gain from recreational use. Incidentally, it’s noteworthy that Bhutan, the only country in the world that employs the Gross National Happiness measure, also has marijuana growing freely on the streets.  Productivity increases associated with well being amelioration (amongst other things) would improve the morale of the workforce and lead to a supply-side-based multiplier effect that increased output and, therefore, incomes across the economy (since happiness is contagious, after all).

Finally, the link between marijuana and creativity is controversial and debated but it is possible that there is something in the postulate that it enhances creativity. If this is true, then the legalisation of marijuana would help encourage divergent thinking and, thereby, help fuel innovation across various industries.