April 27, 2017
I agree with Mayor Jim Kenney that recreational marijuana should be legalized in Pennsylvania as it has been in, among other places, Colorado.
I also agree that Saturday night’s raid that landed activist Nikki Allan Poe, his girlfriend Rachael Friedman and 20 others in jail on some pretty hefty charges is “overkill.”
That said, let’s talk about one particular segment of reaction to that story and its aftermath.
I’m talking about the commenters coming from some variety of this angle: Derp, the mayor wants to legalize it so he can get his greedy hands on more tax dollars, derp.
That’s potentially the dumbest reaction I’ve heard since Big Soda turned WIP’s Howard Eskin into its “one-hand clapping” Saturday morning shill.
At this point, I’ll slide into all-caps language for a moment since you can’t hear me yelling when you read this:
OF COURSE HE WANTS THE TAX MONEY FROM LEGALIZED MARIJUANA, YOU KNEE-JERK REACTIONARIES.
When Colorado took just 10 months of 2016 to surpass $1 billion in marijuana sales, the tax haul surpassed $150 million, including nearly $50 million to fund school construction projects.
Washington State has reaped a similar bounty from its weed, as well, with some of the taxes heading toward public health programs.
This is not a bad thing.
In fact, this is a good thing.
You see, when marijuana is sold in Pennsylvania today – and it is, like, a lot of it is – state and city programs lacking for funding don’t see a penny of it. In essence, what could be a windfall for the state becomes a windfall for private citizens who are breaking an (unnecessary) law.
To criticize pro-legalization folks as being about it for the money is not only absurd, but illogical.
Back to all-caps:
IF MARIJUANA SALES CAN BENEFIT PUBLIC PROGRAMS LIKE, SAY, THE LOTTERY DOES, AND CIGARETTE SALES DO, THAT IS A VALID REASON FOR WANTING LEGALIZATION, EVEN IF YOU STILL BELIEVE THAT "THE DEVIL'S LETTUCE" IS WORSE THAN BOOZE, WHICH IS TAXED HEAVILY.
People whining that that’s a bad thing are doing so because they want to get a cheap shot in at the powers that be while not taking a moment to think, "Hey, if the state has all this new money from a new revenue stream, it wouldn't need to raise other taxes to plug those gaps."
If you want to oppose legalization for recreational use, fine. Just criticize based on something you can at least pretend is logic.
Merely opposing it because it is supported by elected officials you don't like is anything but that. (Psst, if you don't like the tax, you don't have to pay it unless, of course, you're a toking hypocrite.)
No, it's not a gateway money-drug that will lead to more levies. It's an untapped revenue stream that will lead to the sort of funding that averts other new taxes, and a move that Pennsylvania sorely needs.