Could Legalized Pot Solve Louisiana’s Budget Crisis?
The recent special session of the Louisiana Legislature was a dismal failure. Both sides played politics instead of working toward an effective and efficient solution to our state's money problems. That failure leaves a lot of state programs and state services in a bit of a quandary not knowing when or if money will be there for the day to day operations.
Baton Rouge Representative Edmond Jordan sees a source of revenue that the state has not tapped into. That money source? It's legalized marijuana for recreational use.
I couldn't tell you exactly how much revenue it would generate at this time, but I think it would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars right now.
Those are Jordan's comments as reported by the Louisiana Radio Network. While his comments don't quote a specific figure, based on similar figures where pot is legal I am guessing his numbers might be a little conservative.
Colorado, Washington, and California have all legalized marijuana for recreational use. They are also taxing the daylights out of the stuff too. It is estimated that California could see over $1.4 billion in taxes raised over the next three years.
Representative Jordan is suggesting in legislation he intends to file that the state would tax marijuana just like they tax cigarettes.That would certainly add a lot of green to the state's red ink problem. But would that mean an increase in other issues like crime, health problems, and more dangerous roadways?
On the question of public safety, Representative Jordan said,
I don't think people should smoke marijuana and drive vehicles. I think we should have strict rules related to it to make sure that if people want to partake in it that they do it in the safest manner possible.
It's a fact that pot is becoming more and more acceptable in American society. It's also a fact that the illegal marijuana industry is making almost $50 billion a year. None of that money is taxed. Just think how much money could be raised if real organized crime (government) got their paws on that kind of a money-making opportunity.
I can see both sides of the argument. I understand why some people would be for such legislation. I also understand the very passionate arguments against marijuana too. It certainly is something to think about because people are smoking pot in spite of what the law says. They are getting it from somewhere and with our state's current fiscal failings we can't afford to put them in jail.
Should we legalize something just because we need money? No, that's probably not the best approach. Should we continue to base our state's economy on a commodity that fluctuates in price based the political atmosphere of nations other than ours? No, that's probably not the best idea either.
We could always do nothing. No, wait we tried that in the special session and it didn't work out.