As the czar of Colorado’s marijuana program, Barbara Brohl says she is neither pro- nor anti-pot.
But she believes the legal market for the drug is eating into the black market, funding drug abuse treatment and prevention and providing a safer product.
The roughly $200 million in tax revenue from more than $1 billion in sales last year funds all that, she says, plus provides $40 million for schools.
Brohl spoke Wednesday to a panel of Illinois lawmakers considering a proposal to make marijuana use legal in the state. While sponsors say the bill won’t get a vote this legislative session, they’re beginning a series of hearings on how to craft the law.
It’s legal for people over 21 in Colorado to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, which is readily available in dedicated shops throughout the state.
Colorado, she said, has three main marijuana guide posts when it come to policy making: preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the involvement of criminal enterprises and preventing the diversion of legalized marijuana to other states.
* DNAInfo on the Illinois proposal…
Under the recreational law, Illinois residents could possess up to an ounce of pot and five plants. Nonresidents could possess half an ounce. The bill would impose a $50 per ounce tax on pot at the wholesale level, while sales to the public would be subject to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.
Businesses producing marijuana for sale would be bound by labeling requirements and marketing restrictions.
The revenue from marijuana sales would be earmarked for schools as well as treatment and education programs about the dangers of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco.
* ABC 7…
“Getting this out of the illegal market, taking some of those dealers off our streets, restricting access by youth, these are all really good reasons to do it, over and above the financial benefit,” said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (IL-14), co-sponsor.
And the financial benefit could be huge: according to estimates, up to $700 million dollars in tax money if marijuana was legal in the state.
Legal marijuana is heavily taxed: There’s a 28% tax in Colorado and a 37% tax In Washington. In Oregon, the tax ranges between 17% and 20%, depending on the city and county. Growers, processors, retailers and buyers all pay taxes. Medical marijuana tends to be cheaper than recreational because it is taxed at a lower rate. In the past year, Colorado has received nearly $200 million in tax revenue from over $1 billion in marijuana sales. […]
“They shouldn’t be going to make illegal narcotics legal just to balance the budget,” said Chief Tom Weitzel, Riverside Police.
Well, they should also make it legal because people are sick and tired of the state locking people up in steel cages for using a plant.
* Fox Chicago…
A former Drug Enforcement Administrator predicted legalization here would cause 75 additional marijuana-related highway deaths each year.
“Terrible idea! It’s a disaster waiting to happen in Illinois. It’s gonna increase damage to youth. It’s gonna increase highway accidents and fatalities,” said Peter Bensinger, former director of the DEA.
An official from Colorado claimed legalization did not bring a big increase in the number of regular users.
“We have a healthy kids Colorado survey. We’re not seeing an increase or a change in youth use or even really adult use. There are some differences up and down throughout the years. But it’s not statistically significant,” said Barbara Brohl of the Colorado Department of Revenue.
* The last word…
As the nearly two-year-long budget stalemate leaves Illinois with little revenue, Steans and Cassidy said they see their bills as a way to create a new source of revenue for the state that would provide funding for schools and drug prevention and treatment programs.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Steans said. “Taxing legalized recreational marijuana would have a huge impact on the state both in the form of new revenue and in job creation. Last year alone, 18,000 jobs were created in Colorado due to the marijuana industry.”
…Adding… From the BND…
The News-Democrat recently surveyed state representatives and senators from the metro-east, asking where they stand on the issue. Only three of them provided replies.
▪ Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo: “I am still undecided on the issue. I am carefully considering both sides of the argument.”
▪ Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon: “Medical marijuana, owned by lobbyists, became decriminalization last year, and now it’s legalizing pot for recreation under the guise of a budget solution. I will not lead Illinois on this radical path to exchange good sense and morality for pain, suffering and corruption.”
▪ Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton: “Legalizing marijuana for recreational use is not something we should pursue at this time. The medical marijuana program is still unfolding and we need to fine-tune it before we can take the next step. I also don’t think this is where our time and energy needs to be spent right now. We need to be negotiating with the governor to get a balanced budget.”
Um, when two-thirds of voters support something, is it really a “radical” idea?
* CBS poll: Marijuana legalization support at all-time high at 61 percent nationwide
* The Exhaustive List Of Everyone Who’s Died Of A Marijuana Overdose