Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Is California the "make-or-break" state for the future of marijuana legalization?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by the headline of this new Motley Fool posting, "This Could Be the Make-or-Break Marijuana State." Here are excerpts: 

Although state elections are now in the books for another two years, it's not too early to start thinking about which states could be the next to introduce legal marijuana and medical marijuana legislation in the next election.  Though we could theoretically see as many as a dozen states bringing some degree of marijuana vote in front of their citizens in 2016, no state has greater make-or-break potential for the marijuana movement than California.

The most populous state in the country, according to The Los Angeles Times, came incredibly close to putting legal marijuana on the ballot in this past election, however it lacked an adequate amount of funding that would have been required to make a run at legalization.  The Drug Policy Alliance, the same group that helped get marijuana legalized for adults in Washington and Colorado, and medical marijuana legalized in Massachusetts, has been continuously drumming up support, but all efforts to draft the Control, Regulate, and Tax Marijuana Act have been put off until the 2016 elections.

As you may have figured, the implications for California and the rest of the nation are enormous. As the most populous state, California is poised to become the biggest consumer of marijuana, as well as the biggest generator of tax revenue.  Based on data from NerdWallet, California has nearly 25 million people aged 25 and up, of which 6.74% admitting to smoking marijuana within the past month.  Out of the 50 U.S. states, only eight had a higher percentage of admitted marijuana users, and in four of those (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska), recreational use is now legal.

In other words, California could be poised to reap more than $500 million in annual tax benefits based on a forecast that calls for a flat 25% tax on marijuana.  That's no small chunk of change, and it can go to support the state's ailing education system, or even help pay for the maintenance of its state-run health exchange.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2014/11/is-california-the-make-or-break-state-for-the-future-of-marijuana-legalization.html

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