Changes in America: The Marijuana Revolution
Written by: Adam Immel
Over the past 20 years, the United States has slowly transitioned into a much more liberal and progressive stance of one particular drug; Marijuana is slowly being reassessed from the once extremely potent and radical gateway drug it was perceived as for decades, and is now in much more positive light, mostly in thanks to the medical benefits that an estimated 1.4 million have utilized. More recently, states are now legalizing Cannabis for recreational use, beginning with Colorado passing Colorado Amendment 64 by vote in 2012 (officially legalized in 2014). After subsequent votes in midterms, odd years, and the recent election date on November 8th, 2016America now has 8 states and Washington D.C. with complete legalization, and there’s only more to come. Obviously, it seems that in order for legalization to occur, more than the consumer will benefit. With the decriminalization of Cannabis on the rise, one might want to review the effects on state economies and revenue generated for local governments.
In similar fashion to Tobacco products, local state governments are benefitting from Cannabis sale thanks to taxation. In this report, we will use Colorado as our exemplified state. This state has imposed a 2.9% sales tax on both medical and recreational Marijuana. Since legalization, the results and revenue generated due to the popularity of the product have been astounding.
In a fiscal period that ended on June 30th, 2015, Marijuana tax revenue was at $70,000,000, which was almost double revenue from Alcohol (42 million dollars in same period). And serving as a reminder, Colorado isn’t the only one reaping the benefits. Washington state has seen extremely similar results, and now that California is completely in the game, their enormous economy is only bound to grow. These states GDP is only bound to grow now that a new industry is rising.
Additionally, it’s important to see what fields of funding state governments are aiding with all this money. In the state of Colorado, the generated revenue is being properly allocated to different departments, but the main focus in this state is to benefit the development of schools and education. As described in a government report issued in July of 2015, the first $40 million in excise tax generated was allocated towards the BEST fund, which was created to renew or replace deteriorating public schools. The combined taxes then go on to impact various departments, including the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, the Department of Human Services, and others.
For Prohibitionists, it’s been hard to find a point to argue the negatives to the Marijuana Revolution. Many argued that crime rate would increase, but in the first 5 years in Colorado, that has not been the case. It’s important to understand that the values of American citizens are changing, and that this change in view of individual liberties must also be seen as a gateway towards economic reliefs for governments. If the felony for Marijuana possession were to be lifted, and the Union became completely in accord with legalization, one can imagine the benefits that could be reaped, based upon the changes experienced by progressive states.
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