What If California Legalized Marijuana

Our state only needs about $42 billion to balance the budget. The current proposal includes $15.1 billion in cuts, $14.4 billion in temporary tax increases and $11.4 billion in loans. The temporary tax increases include: a 1 cent hike in state sales tax, state income tax increases, 12 cents a gallon gas tax and increased vehicle license fees. Hmmm, so not only are we going to get fewer services, but we get to pay more at the same time. The federal bailout money should help offset some of the cuts as well as the loans, but we still have a fundamental problem—the government overspends!

So instead of nickel and diming the vast majority with increased fees and taxes, why not go after the number one cash crop in California—marijuana. California’s marijuana crop is worth about $14 billion annually. That’s right, $14 billion a year. So why not legalize it? In the past 10 years, public opinion has moved from just 27 percent in favor of legalization to over 40 percent. And just think of the tax revenue. If a pack of cigarettes that retails for about $4 has 87 cents in excise tax, just imagine the tax the state could levy on pot sales. Plus there would be more documented workers, paying more taxes to the state.

The state could control the content so the potency would be consistent, thus eliminating harmful chemicals that are sometimes mixed in. We could save hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent on putting people in jail for violating marijuana laws and easily another billion or two in criminal justice fees, plus alleviate some of the overcrowding in our prisons. And when you look at the deaths caused by drugs, there’s no comparison. Tobacco kills over 400,000 people every year, alcohol another 100,000 (both of which are legal) and all illegal drugs combined is a mere 15,000. So, have I convinced you?

Oh, and one more thing. Don’t forget the government would be in control. On second thought, maybe it’s not such a good idea.

Jeff Mitchell

   
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