RELEASE: CAP Calls for States to Use Marijuana Tax Revenue to Fund Public Sector Job Creation in Communities Most Harmed by the War on Drugs

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new issue brief calling for states and the federal government to use marijuana tax revenue to fund the creation of thousands of public sector jobs in low-income communities of color that have been historically deprived of economic opportunity due to discriminatory drug enforcement.

“For decades, low-income African American and Latinx communities have disproportionately felt the consequences of this country’s draconian drug enforcement policies—including marijuana enforcement,” said Maritza Perez, senior policy analyst for Criminal Justice Reform at CAP. “As states and Congress look to capitalize on revenue from the regulated marijuana market, they must prioritize those communities that have been most harmed by policies that criminalize conduct that is increasingly legal in this country.”

The issue brief proposes a tangible way to pay for the creation of jobs in communities that have experienced the heaviest consequences of disparate criminal enforcement of marijuana. The authors calculate that annual tax revenues from the regulated marijuana market in California and Washington state, for example, could create nearly 20,000 jobs. This number is sure to increase as more and more Americans—68 percent, according to a 2018 CAP/GBAO Strategies poll—favor marijuana legalization and more states consider legalizing the recreational use of marijuana as well as creating a regulated marijuana market.

The proposal is an outgrowth of CAP’s 2018 report, “Blueprint for the 21st Century: A Plan for Better Jobs and Stronger Communities,” which called for a massive investment in public sector  job creation and a jobs guarantee for highly distressed communities.

The brief further describes the need to ensure that any marijuana legalization effort leads with provisions that ensure racial equity and correct injustices that have resulted from the war on drugs. Key recommendations include providing automatic and cost-free expungements of marijuana arrest and conviction records; reinvesting in essential services for communities most harmed by the war on drugs; and promoting equitable licensing systems and funding for minority-owned businesses. These measures would greatly help people who face barriers to economic opportunity, employment, and other basic necessities due to the collateral consequences of a marijuana-related conviction.

Please click here to read “Using Marijuana Revenue to Create Jobs” by Maritza Perez, Olugbenga Ajilore, and Ed Chung.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at or 202-495-3682.