Marijuana Is No Answer for Ailing State Budgets | Opinion

NewsWeek – Kevin Sabet, Smart Approaches to Marijuana – 31 May 2020
Family First Comment: Excellent op-ed from the head of SAM in the US…
“Less than half of one percent of California’s budget is covered by all the pot those Golden Staters are famous for loving. In Colorado, teacher strikes over poor education funding have made headlines lately, undercutting the pro-legalization argument that pot would be a boon for the state’s poorly funded education system… Despite the numerous claims from the pot lobby, legalizing marijuana won’t help solve the fiscal issues now felt by states across the country. Former Colorado pot czar Andrew Freedman summed it up perfectly when he said: “You do not legalize for taxation. It is a myth. The big red herring is the whole thing that the tax revenue will solve a bunch of crises. But it won’t.””

As many leaders nationwide are looking for ways to help mitigate the economic harms this virus has brought upon us, one industry claims it has an easy fix to shore up immense budget shortfalls: marijuana.

Tax revenue, Big Pot says, will flow almost endlessly. It’s an easy fix.

They must be smoking something.

This month, legislative leaders from California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington sent a letter to Congress requesting $1 trillion in federal aid to help states deal with the massive budget shortfalls they face due to lost revenues and increased spending.

If California were its own sovereign nation, it would boast the world’s sixth largest economy. As it stands, the Golden State is staring down a $54 billion deficit that Governor Gavin Newsom has stated is directly a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. This deficit represents nearly 40 percent of the state’s entire $147.8 billion general fund budget, of which marijuana tax revenues account for less than half of one percent.

That’s right: Less than half of one percent of California’s budget is covered by all the pot those Golden Staters are famous for loving. Even if marijuana commercialization brought in a billion dollars a year, as its supporters promised—and it hasn’t come close—it would still take over half a decade to make up the deficit.

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