The Washington (state) Office of Financial Management has conducted a study to determine how much new revenue can be expected if I-502, the marijuana legalization initiative, is approved by the voters this November.
The number: “at least $560 million a year.” “Business and sales taxes would raise an estimated $130 million more,” according to an article in the Seattle Times.
That news should bring a lot of smiles, especially to revenue collectors.
For a fuller glimpse of what happened at the Judiciary Committee hearing on March 6, here is my report to the Massachusetts activists who came out in support, and who were responsible for the bill having even been introduced in the first place, and here is what I told the committee.
In a word, it was a good day.
Representative Ellen Story, the bill’s sponsor, spoke solidly in support of the bill, pointing out that she filed it in response to the 2010 Public Policy Question in her district instructing her to do so; indeed she complied 100% with those instructions from her constituents. And she went even further by reading and understanding the bill and doing her independent research on the issue, and speaking intelligently with the media. And, she sportingly endured the teasing from her legislative colleagues, more than a few murmuring that she was right but their constituents just “aren’t there yet.” (That is followership masquerading as leadership.)
Her testimony before the committee represented the first occasion ever, to the best of my knowledge, that a Massachusetts legislator has ever so endorsed the repeal of marijuana prohibition in favor of a system of regulation and taxation. That’s measurable progress.
Another sign of measurable progress was the lack of opposition to our bill. When it first came up in 1981, the hearing room was packed with anti-drug crusaders. We few supporters were given the formal respect granted the lunatic fringe, and were glad to escape safely. This time, 31 years later, only a handful of speakers opposed the bill, and all they could do is re-hash lame and ancient canards like sending wrong messages to children. They also appeared to be employees of taxpayer-funded anti-drug agencies, hence are expected to spout the usual pious platitudes lest they get in trouble at work.
We will hear nothing more from Beacon Hill on H1371, but they will hear from us. As politicians were the last to embrace repeal in the late 1920s, so too they will be last to embrace repeal of marijuana prohibition. Hence leadership has fallen to the voters, and they will be exercising that leadership this November. In Massachusetts, they will have the opportunity to legalize medical marijuana. In Washington and Colorado, they will have the opportunity to enact statewide tax/reg plans, not unlike H1371.
Here’s a recent piece about legislative abdication, though I didn’t call it that.
Now all eyes turn to Washington and Colorado. Success in either state will trigger a long-awaited confrontation with the feds, and when the feds blink, the state revenue collectors will smile.