Legalizing marijuana | Editorials | ncnewsonline.com – New Castle News
Pennsylvania recently signed off on the legality of medical marijuana. Now, auditor general Eugene DePasquale is suggesting the state should drop the other shoe and sanction recreational cannabis use as well.
There are good arguments for doing what DePasquale suggests. But we are not endorsing them.
DePasquale believes Pennsylvania could generate $200 million a year by taxing sales of the drug. He also points to states such as Colorado and Washington that have legalized recreational marijuana and are effectively regulating the process.
A study released last fall would seem to support DePasquale. The October report by the Drug Policy Alliance said that legalization has left teen marijuana use unchanged, had little impact on traffic fatalities and not only generated hundreds of millions of dollars of tax revenue but also saved states similar amounts when they no longer are obliged to arrest and prosecute possession and other low-level marijuana offenses.
No wonder DePasquale is tempted to look to at legalization as a tool to address Pennsylvania’s massive budget deficit.
Still, legalization isn’t as rosy a scenario as the above findings might suggest. The DPA report also notes that while the post-legalization traffic fatality rate in Colorado and Washington has remained consistent with pre-legalization levels, drivers in fatal crashes now are more likely to test positive for marijuana (although it concedes that the active compounds in marijuana may be detectable long after impairment has passed).
The study also points out that while Colorado and Washington realized $129 million and $220 million, respectively, in marijuana tax revenues in their 2015 fiscal year, these numbers represent less than 1 percent of their overall state budgets.
Now may be a good time to note that last month, we endorsed the idea of a local medical marijuana growing operation, citing the jobs