Winning! Marijuana legalization is a fiscally responsible option for every state in the union, according to a report released Monday.
The new report, published by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), indicates marijuana legalization is more effective than prohibition at stopping crime, creating jobs, increasing state revenue, and wiping away the stain of racially charged policy.
As Vermont moves to join the enlightened club of states that have legalized recreational marijuana since 2012, the topic has become a progressive lightning rod in the body of American politics.
Signed by Vermont’s Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Monday, H.511 facilitated the Green Mountain State in becoming the first to legalize cannabis without a ballot initiative. Passed through the state legislature and approved by the governor, this new pathway to legalization will likely cause some serious consternation for the embattled Attorney General (AG) and his Department of Justice.
AG Sessions – whether he realizes it or not – will find he is on the wrong side of history and lacks the ability to prohibit states from legalizing marijuana.
While Sessions proposes another front in the war on weed, the DPA report indicates those states that have legalized recreational marijuana are more effective at protecting the public safety and the health of their citizens.
Legalization enjoys the support of approximately 64 percent of the American population. No longer a partisan issue, a majority of Republicans (51 percent) also embrace the socioeconomic value of reforming the country’s disastrous marijuana laws.
The DPA’s report drills down on the inconvenient truth: prohibition doesn’t work. The data suggests after states have legalized the recreational herb, marijuana-related arrests have nosedived, millions of taxpayer dollars have been saved, and thousands of people will be spared the unfortunate reality of being saddled with a criminal record.
Meanwhile, contrary to the AG’s diatribe, marijuana use has not increased, there have been tangible reductions in opioid-related overdoses, and alcohol-related DUIs declined precipitously.
Legal Marijuana Revenue Enables Higher Education
As states legalize recreational marijuana, they are filling their coffers with millions of dollars that would otherwise be headed to the black market. Allocated for the good of society, this new tax revenue is providing critical funding for expanding educational opportunities and creating drug diversion programs.
- From 2015 to 2017, Colorado’s recreational marijuana tax revenue has generated $230 million for the Colorado Department of Education.
- Since legalization began in Oregon, the state has distributed $34 million to its school fund.
- Nevada’s state school fund is projected to harvest approximately $56 million over the next two years based on their 15 percent wholesale marijuana tax.
- Washington state allocates 25 percent of their collected marijuana tax revenue to substance abuse treatment and 55 percent to fund basic health plans.
- Alaska is projected to collect approximately $12 million annually from the recreational marijuana program, funds which will help finance community centers and drug treatment programs.
- California and Massachusetts will invest a share of their marijuana tax revenue in the communities most adversely impacted by drug arrests and incarcerations historically, particularly low-income communities of color, to help repair the harms of discriminatory law enforcement.
By legalizing marijuana, states have dramatically reduced incarceration rates and are erasing many of the egregious injustices of prohibition. Now, with the overwhelming support of the American population and a fast-growing history of success, marijuana legalization is proving to be both fiscally responsible and a societal imperative.
Main photo courtesy of Allie Beckett