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Legal Marijuana Would Light Up Israel Economy to Tune of $450M

Legalizing marijuana would generate more than $450 million annually for the Israeli economy, a new study shows.

The black market for cannabis in Israel currently is worth $707 million annually, according to the study released Tuesday by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. If the sale of marijuana was legalized and it was taxed at rates similar to cigarettes it would add about $268 million in tax revenues and another approximately $198 million in savings to law enforcement directly related to illegal marijuana use, the study found.

At least 275,000 Israeli adults used marijuana in the past year, the study found, and based its tax revenue estimate on that number.

Some 75 percent of those questioned in a public opinion survey analyzed in the study said they believe marijuana has legitimate medical uses. Israeli support for medical marijuana is similar to the level of support recorded in the US in a survey earlier this year, according to the institute.

The survey also found that only 26 percent of Israelis support legalization of marijuana, while 64 percent opposes it. In the United States, 52 percent of those surveyed support legalization.

The survey was conducted by Kevoon for the study and interviewed 500 respondents reflecting a representative sample of the Jewish population of Israel, with a maximum sampling error of 4.5 percent.

“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,” said paper co-author Yarden Gazit. “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.”

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