One of the major selling points for cannabis legalization in states that have yet to legalize for adult use is the prospect of increased tax revenue. When marijuana is sold on the black market, no taxes are paid or collected. But when marijuana is brought into the light of the legal market, the money that previously went to dealers goes to legitimate businesses, businesses that can only stay in business by following the various rules and regulations set forth by the state; one of those rules is being accurate and prompt in paying taxes.
Retail sales of marijuana began in Colorado on New Year’s Day 2014. Since then, according to an analysis by the marijuana consulting firm VS Strategies, a little over $506 million in tax revenue has been collected from recreational and medical marijuana sales, plus fees paid for licenses and such.
So in 3½ years, the state of Colorado and various local jurisdictions collected over a half a billion dollars in tax revenue that could have gone to black market dealers. Obviously, that money going to the black market would have been useless in terms of raising revenue for Colorado and the cities and towns within the state. The money would still have been spent, to be sure, but nothing would have gone to various government programs and schools.
This fact cannot be discounted by those attempting to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Most voters don’t use cannabis on a regular basis, and while many of them agree that marijuana is safer than alcohol and that people should be allowed to do whatever they want as they as they are not infringing on the rights of anyone else, many of them need some extra incentive.
That’s where “money for schools” comes in. Instead of money spent on marijuana going into a black hole, why can’t a good portion of that money go to rebuilding decaying schools? Why would any parent prefer that money to not go to schools? Painted in this way, legalization is a no-brainer for a lot of soccer moms and dads. It easily encapsulates the utterly wasteful nonsense that is marijuana prohibition. The issue is no longer abstract, but instead, something that affects their children.
While it’s true that legalization should be enacted because people shouldn’t go to jail for possessing and consuming plant matter, that’s not the way voting and politics work. People need to see why the issue hits home for them, and if they aren’t cannabis users themselves, money for schools is the best way to do that.