Marijuana in the Midlands: Money talks

Marijuana in the Midlands: The impact on our economy

COLUMBIA (WACH) - You've heard the saying "money talks", Well when it comes to marijuana, it's screaming and some states are all ears. Whether you're for or against it, here's some info you can take to the bank.

In 2013 the marijuana industry was worth just under $1.5 billion annually, and it's expected to top $2.34 billion this year which is a 64% increase, growing faster than the market for cell phones. Economists know, it's just getting started. Banks are getting on board. Wall street is chomping at the bit. Meanwhile Colorado is paying off it's deficit in record time.

The 20 states that are selling marijuana legally are the only ones getting a piece of the pie and South Carolina isn't on that list. Let's take a look at our state's current financial standing. When it comes to monies borrowed from the federal government, we owe over $450 million for unemployment and our general obligations debts are in the tens of billions. Then factor in our unfunded liability... we're going to owe $15.5 billion for state retirees and another $9.7 billion for their healthcare. Currently, there's no money saved for either of these so it's easy to see, we're in a financial bind.

Some states are turning to tax revenue from medicinal marijuana sales as a solution. While some see legalization as opening up a pandoras box of problems, like the rise of addiction, crime, or toxic side affects, others like state representitive Todd Rutherford talk about everything we have to gain. He says,"I t's huge in terms of the impact on our state revenue collections from the people who grow it, from people who cultivate it, from people that sell it to distributors and wholesalers... the impact could be huge if we handle it right"

Wayne borders of the local N.O.R.M.L chapter sees endless empolyment opportunities for South Carolinians from growing, to transporting, to merchandising and distribution. Think about a whole new definition to the term "Comfort Food" like cannabis mac'n'cheese.

But there are still concerns to be addressed, such as Big Pharma, advertising and promotion, driving laws and age limits. It's a growing industry, and we, as a state need to decide if we want in or we want to keep it out. let us know what you think in our questionnaire by clicking here.