Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2016
Source: Sun, The (Yuma, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Sun


Idea Is Controversial, but Could Help Solve State's Financial Woes

Could recreational marijuana solve the state of Arizona's revenue challenges?

A report by the staff of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee has 
found that if Arizona legalized recreational marijuana, Arizonans 
would buy nearly $500 million of pot a year by 2020. That in turn 
would generate nearly $82 million in taxes once the program is fully 
implemented, Capitol Media Services reports.

Of that, $27.8 million would go to general aid to education, with an 
identical amount available to help schools fund full-day kindergarten 
programs, Capitol Media Services reports.

Should the initiative eventually be approved by voters, cities and 
counties could also see a boost through local sales tax revenues.

An opponent to the initiative, Maricopa County Attorney Bill 
Montgomery, told Capitol Media Services that voters shouldn't be 
swayed by the report, because it's bad public policy, and doesn't 
take into account other costs, such as addiction treatment and 
increased work accidents. However, one must wonder if this isn't an 
idea whose time has come.

Arizona has faced hurdles when it comes to finances for some time, as 
have our cities and counties.

We've faced years of belt-tightening, years of services cut, years of 
funding being stripped from accounts to pay other bills, simply 
because the funding wasn't there.

For years, Yumans have complained about the state of the roadways 
here, and a large part of the problem was the state stripping the 
Highway User Revenue Fund to pay for other departments, leaving 
cities and counties short on funding to pay for needed road repairs.

The schools too have faced their own set of challenges, with funding 
cuts leaving them paralyzed, relying on voter support for relief.

Recreational marijuana raises some concerns. Can it be kept out of 
the hands of children? What, exactly, are the health concerns vs. the 
health benefits, and what do we know to be scientifically true vs. rumor?

However, alcohol is a legal beverage that is proven to be deadly when 
abused, is proven to be addictive, yet it is regulated and taxed with 
laws in place to keep it out of children's hands.

It is a controversial idea, but perhaps it's time to consider the 
benefits legalizing recreational marijuana can have here from a 
financial perspective, and start working toward solutions for any concerns.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom