“WE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN [THE WAR ON DRUGS] FOR DECADES NOW WITH A HUGE COST AND THE DESTRUCTION OF A WHOLE LOT OF LIVES OF PEOPLE WHO WERE NEVER INVOLVED IN ANY VIOLENT ACTIVITIES.” – BERNIE SANDERS
In an April 2017 article, Forbes magazine stated that the legalization of marijuana has led to a combined generated tax income of $655 million in state tax retail sales alone. In Colorado, for example there was a 57.2% increase in the total marijuana taxes collected between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. Retail tax sales increased 51.4% in that time period and Colorado collected $119 million in that time period in taxes on cannabis alone. Colorado then was able to take these funds and use it to put $16 million towards their Affordable Housing Grants and Loans in 2016, leading to higher rates of home ownership for Coloradans who could not receive traditional housing loans.
When Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use, they saw an increase in state tax revenue. This additional money could then be used to alleviate the burdens on working-class citizens while increasing public services at NO ADDITIONAL COST to citizens.
Currently, West Virginia is suffering from a massive opioid crisis. We have the most counties of any state with the highest number of per capita drug overdoses from opioids. Cannabis has been proven to be an effective medicinal drug as well to alleviate pain with no connection between rates of drug use and rates of usage. In states that had higher rates of opiate overdoses, when state law legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, there was a reduction in opioid usage, particularly among individuals aged 21-40.
Legalizing marijuana is a policy that makes sense. It decreases tax burdens on working-class families, it increases tax revenue for states to then put towards public services, and it can be used to combat the harmful effects of the opioid crisis.
If elected, I will fully support the immediate legalization of marijuana for recreational use. I will also work side-by-side with local businesses to provide grants that would allow local West Virginians to begin growing and selling marijuana in legally operating dispensaries. It’s time that West Virginia businesses were owned and managed by West Virginians.