64% of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana.
We see this in several states now – nine have gone for full-out legalization (ten if you count D.C.) while another thirty have legalized medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana has been available for 22 years now, starting with California in 1996.
All but one of those states – Vermont – had to use the ballot initiative to get pot legalized. Vermont was the only one to uses its legislature to get the job done, with the governor signing the legalization bill.
At this point, 20% of Americans live in a legal marijuana state.
Montana ain’t one of ‘em.
Why is that…and how long can it last?
Typically, Democrats have been seen as the Party of legalization.
What’s interesting is that 51% of Republicans now favor legalization, which is actually 9% higher than in 2016.
I think a lot of them are realizing the economic impact of legal marijuana.
In 2017, legal marijuana sales totaled $9.7 billion in the US, which is a 33% increase from the previous year.
By 2021 the legal marijuana market will have reached $24.5 billion, which represents an annual growth rate of 28%.
And the states are reaping an economic windfall.
Colorado was one of the first. They expected to make $70 million in tax revenue a year, but by 2016 they were up to $140 million.
Last year Colorado made $223 million in tax revenue from legal marijuana, or “ten times the amount it generated in the first year of legal sales.”
Washington State averages $2 million a day in legal marijuana sales. Last year they brought in $314 million in tax revenue from pot.
California is on track to have $3.7 billion in legal and medical marijuana sales this year, and that should go up to $5 billion next year. The state expects to make $350 million in tax revenue this year.
Nevada – which began selling legal pot last July – actually made $30 million in tax revenue in just six months.
$195 million in sales made that possible.
The state charges a 15% tax on wholesale marijuana sales, and 10% on retail sales.
It’s expected that Nevada will have $622 million in sales by 2020.
Overall, it’s expected that legal marijuana sales will eventually generate $28 billion in tax revenues.
Breaking it down further, we find that $7 billion will be federal revenue, $5.5 billion will come from business taxes, and $1.5 billion will come from income and payroll taxes.
Currently there are 121,000 people employed in the marijuana industry.
If all the states legalized, it’s expected that annual tax collections will be in the neighborhood of $5 billion to $18 billion a year.
782,000 jobs would be added to the economy if marijuana were legalized nationally, and that would grow to 1.1 million by 2025.
The current marijuana market is valued at $45 billion per year, which is .28% of our GDP. That comes out to 26 million pounds of pot annually.
So what about Montana?
Montana has over 25,000 medical marijuana patients right now, it’s expected that number will get up to 40,000 in a couple years.
Earlier this spring we had around 150 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, and by the end of the year those businesses will have made $70 million.
55 out of our 56 counties supported medical marijuana via the ballot in 2016.
It’s expected that another legalization initiative will come about in 2020.
I sure hope we don’t have to wait that long. I’d like the Montana GOP to take this issue and make it their own.
And I think that will happen.
Currently, 65% of Americans feel that smoking marijuana is morally acceptable (78% think drinking alcohol is).
That number falls to 41% when you ask regular churchgoers.
“With roughly two-thirds of the public saying marijuana use is morally acceptable,” Gallup concludes, “it seems there will not be sufficient opposition to thwart attempts to make it legal.”
So here in Montana…which political party will reap the spoils of legalization?
After all, we know that legalization states are making serious tax dollars…something that Montana is in desperate need of.
Just last week we saw the state take $30 million from a private prison, something Democrats did not like.
Wouldn’t it be better to just tax a plant that at least 10% of the state is smoking once a month?
With talk going around Democratic circles about a sales tax being implemented, I think now is the time to start talking about this again.
The last major attempt to legalize marijuana in Montana came about in 2016, with the ballot initiative process.
Neither of the two parties supported this effort, nor did any outside, moneyed groups. That’s a big reason that one ballot initiative only got 40% of the signatures needed, while the constitutional amendment got just 15%.
We know that Yellowstone, Gallatin, Flathead, Missoula and Cascade Counties support legalizing marijuana the most, and in that order.
Yellowstone County is a typically Republican area, but they sure have a lot of pot smokers.
Republicans in Montana need to have a serious talk about marijuana.
The state needs money, and with our shaky, two-legged tax stool…we’re not going to see any new revenue options.
But legalizing marijuana will bring in much-needed revenue.
We can use this for schools, roads, jails, and all manner of other things.
Montana Republicans: Now’s the time to take the lead on marijuana legalization.
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Ekins, Gavin and Bishop-Henchman, Joseph. “Marijuana Legalization and Taxes: Federal Revenue Impact.” Tax Foundation. 12 May 2016. https://taxfoundation.org/marijuana-tax-legalization-federal-revenue/
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King, Jon. “Recreational Marijuana Expected On Montana Ballots In 2020.” NewsTalk KGVO. 7 February 2018. http://newstalkkgvo.com/recreational-marijuana-expected-on-montana-ballots-in-2020/
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Zhang, Mona. “Nevada Makes $30 Million In Marijuana Taxes During First Six Months of Sales.” Forbes. 26 February 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/monazhang/2018/02/26/nevada-makes-30-million-in-marijuana-taxes-during-first-six-months-of-sales/#589035273a7f