Pitch: Marijuana Policy in the U.S.

Partnering with Matt MacVey
Headline: The Economics of Marijuana
Slug: Weedonomics
Key elements: The country is in a major transitional phase on marijuana policy, not just at the state level but at the federal level as well within the Justice Department. Marijuana-related arrests cost taxpayers around $15 billion a year, and $75 million in New York City alone.  In comparison, estimates of tax revenue that the U.S. government would take in if marijuana was legalized and taxed is between $40 -$100 billion. This is also a unique issue because technically marijuana is still federally illegal, but each state is individually changing its own laws and as a result the nation is a patchwork of different marijuana policies. How much would legalizing marijuana affect the prison-system funded by taxpayer dollars, and how much would it affect the federal budget?  Where does each state currently stand with its marijuana policies?
News hook: This topic is very newsworthy since new things are happening in this area each week. We could look at this through the lens of Colorado and Washington’s new policies to see how the change is actually playing out on the state level, or we track the shift in policy around the country.