Legalization of Recreational Marijuana What is the current state of the legalization of recreational marijuana?

Glossary

Dispensary: A room where medicines are prepared and provided.

Excise: A tax levied on certain goods and commodities produced or sold within a country and on licenses granted for certain activities.

Incarceration: The state of being confined in prison; imprisonment.

Legislature: The legislative body of a country or state.

Recreational: Relating to or denoting activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.

Regulation: A rule or directive made and maintained by an authority.

If Minnesota was to legalize recreational marijuana would we see an increase in excise revenue as a result of the drug being legal?

If Minnesota was to legalize recreational marijuana would we see an increase in excise revenue as a result of the drug being legal? In the event of Minnesota legalizing recreational marijuana, the state would most certainly see an increase in the excise revenue garnered through taxation on the drug. One way this this is achievable would to convince the government that “if congress can create a new revenue stream from legalization, then it may become possible to lower tax rates while also reducing the deficit” (Brannon). By bringing in a new source of income, congress would have the ability to lower rates on other taxes, and continue to make money through the new recreational marijuana taxes. This is further proven by a study done by the Marijuana Policy Group, headed by Adam Orens, that projected marijuana to become the highest source of excise revenue in Colorado by the end of 2020. Colorado is currently bringing in $150 million in revenue through the taxation of tobacco, so if marijuana was to surpass tobacco, that alone would be great evidence to suggest the legalization of marijuana. There is obviously quite a bit of money at stake, so a state could possibly lose out on some money if they refused to legalize the drug.

How much will a state lose financially if they hold out on the decision to legalize it until much later?

If a state was to postpone the legalization of marijuana or even forgo it completely, they would almost certainly be losing out on millions and millions of dollars in taxes. A senator from Rhode Island named Joshua Miller claims that "if we fail to pass the bill this year, we will lose significant ground to Massachusetts" (Steinmetz). People in Rhode Island will easily hop the border in order to buy marijuana from a dispensary in Massachusetts, so instead of losing out on revenue, they could legalize it and tax people for the drug in Rhode Island. The amount of money that would be collected through the taxation of recreational marijuana would be upwards of $150 million a year in Rhode Island, (Malone), certainly enough to make state legislatures to consider the legalization of the drug in Rhode Island. By not legalizing the drug they would possibly lose out on all of that money, which is a huge amount of money to just be leaving in the open for another state, such as Massachusetts. With all of the evidence to prove that states should legalize sooner rather than later, it is somewhat surprising that the federal government has had little to say about the debate.

What will the federal government do if more and more states continue to legalize recreational marijuana?

It is very unlikely that the federal government would be accepting in any way towards the legalization of marijuana. When Colorado, Oregon and Washington all voted on the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012, Deputy Attorney General James Cole stated that the government would be “going to take a look at whether or not there are dangers to the community from the sale of marijuana and we’re going to go after those dangers” (Justice Official: Federal). What Cole was saying basically means that if the government finds anything to do with the legalization of marijuana that they find to be dangerous, they would pursue those using marijuana as felons, regardless if they were in a state that had legalized the drug. More specifically the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the actual ones that call the shots when it comes to the regulation of all kinds of drugs. The DEA actually has extensive control over drug making policies, (Stop Treating Marijuana), which would include the legalization of marijuana by the federal government, and other drugs alike. Because of this the legalization of the drug on a national scale is very unlikely, so it is up to the states to get it done themselves.

Would the legalization of recreational marijuana reduce the cost of money spent on law enforcement on the drug?

Legalizing recreational marijuana would decrease the amount of money spent on law enforcement on the drug, as well as the amount of people incarcerated for possessing the drug. Emily Gould states that the legalization of marijuana would save the state of West Virginia $8 million dollars on the enforcement of current marijuana laws. In more populous states, like New York, the amount of money being saved would be much greater. Not only would every state save money on law enforcement, but the overall incarceration rate would go down. According to a study conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union, majority of the people that are arrested for possessing illegal drugs, were in possession of marijuana . Furthermore, the people arrested for possessing the drug had a small amount of the drug so, it’s not like they are the kingpin of a drug cartel. All of this would save costs for law enforcements and is a good reason for Minnesota and other states to consider legalization.

When can we expect recreational marijuana to be legalized in Minnesota?

It appears that it will be quite some time for Minnesota legislature to pass a bill in regards to the legalization of recreational marijuana. Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Jon Applebaum has stated that “he’s planning a bill that would add Minnesota to the list of eight states that allow recreational sales and use of the drug. It stands little chance in the Republican-controlled Legislature” (Associated Press). Applebaum want’s to bring awareness to the cause and he hopes that by pushing a bill, that ultimately he knows will not pass at this moment in time, it will open up people's eyes for a future bill regarding legalization. Like Applebaum said, the amount of Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives currently is also a factor into how the bill is likely to be viewed. According to a survey conducted by Gallup Polls, a few years ago, only 42% of Republicans support the legalization of marijuana, (Livni). Until the majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives decreases, or Republicans begin to shift their views on the topic, it is unlikely to see any change in the current laws that Minnesota has in place.

Citations

Associated Press. “Legalize recreational marijuana? Minnesota lawmaker’s bid a longshot.” Feb 8. 2017. Accessed from https://goo.gl/vI78Zd

Brannon, Ike. "Legalizing Marijuana: Money Over Minds." 1 Sep. 2013. Accessed from https://goo.gl/XljSb1

Gould, Emily. “Marijuana Legalization: Legalization Would Benefit Nation.” May 6. 2010. Accessed from https://goo.gl/2V1I5u

“Justice Official: Federal Government Won’t Legalize Marijuana Even if States Do.” Oct 22. 2012. Accessed from https://goo.gl/EBJvtp

Livni, Ephrat. "Christian Values are driving Republican Legislators to move Fast on Marijuana Legalization." 20 Jan. 2017. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/NZLkphn

Light, Miles. Orens, Adam. Rowberry, Jacob. “The Economic Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado. Marijuana Policy Group.” October. 2016. Fig 9. Accessed from https://goo.gl/XlyE2x

Malone Scott. “Rhode Island lawmakers push to legalize marijuana, following Massachusetts.” Jan 11. 2017. Accessed from https://goo.gl/iHaCym

“Marijuana Arrests by the Numbers.” Accessed from https://goo.gl/kLZiUH

Steinmetz, Katy. “Rhode Island Lawmakers Want to Legalize Recreational Pot.” January 11. 2017. Accessed from https://goo.gl/iT1K6f

“Stop Treating Marijuana Like Heroin.” Aug 12. 2016. Accessed from https://goo.gl/Sof18z

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Evan Michels
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Created with images by Cannabis Culture - "Global Marijuana March 2013 in Vancouver" • Cannabis Culture - "4/20 Vancouver 2015 - by Danny Kresnyak" • Cannabis Culture - "Global Marijuana March 2013 in Vancouver" • mardi_grass_2010 - "Plantem" • Cannabis Culture - "untitled image" • eggrole - "cops as we were smoking in the back" • Newtown grafitti - "Graffiti tunnel, XI" • aforero - "Creative Lights"

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