The rationale for legalization varies, from achieving “social justice” (even though racial disparities in arrests persist in legalized states like Colorado or Washington) to more blatant appeals to greed. The global legal market has been estimated at $9.5 billion for 2017, with investor testimonials projecting future markets at values between $300 and $500 billion in a few short years.
But not all signs are rosy. The evidence to date—such as the consequences in states like Colorado where legalized regimes have operated long enough to generate reliable data—is that the progress of legalization across the states is less like a victorious procession and more like a nip-and-tuck race between salesmanship and disaster.
Advocates feel the need to proselytize in new states, and do it quickly, in order to keep ahead of the growing damage in already legalized states. From the perspective of broken promises, the legalization movement represents not so much the arc of history as a classic Ponzi scheme.