Washington Marijuana Taxes Likely to be Shared with City and County Governments across State – are the numbers proof that Legalizing Cannabis can work for everyone?
Sadly, the big winner in the legalization of Washington Marijuana is illegal drug dealers. That’s got to change.
The decriminalization of marijuana for recreational purposes was sold to voters in 2012 as the way to undermine the black market and deal a blow to criminals.
In theory, it made sense. In practice, it’s been a total flop.
It’s hard to get access to medical marijuana when over 100 cities and counties have banned marijuana related businesses, which makes it easier for black-market dealers to do business.
During the last few years illegal drug dealers have been growing their tax-free earnings. All the while the State is and has been losing because the projected tax revenue from marijuana sales has not been fulfilled.
What could be done?
Policy makers believe they may have discovered a partial solution by sharing the state pot taxes with city and county governments to encourage licensed marijuana growers to set up local businesses.
Kevin Bommer, Deputy Director of the Colorado Municipal League, said that they plan to follow steps that have worked at least somewhat in Colorado.
“It definitely made a difference. Without it, you would not have as many municipalities in Colorado approving retail marijuana sales,” said Bommer on Monday.
New bills presented in both houses in Olympia suggest that Washington State would share a portion of its income from marijuana taxes with cities and counties. The caveat being that they allow approved marijuana businesses in their jurisdictions.
Since legal Washington Marijuana stores started opening last summer, the State has collected $20 million in taxes, most of which goes to fund health care. In Colorado, sales and excises taxes on marijuana reached $50 million in the first year of legal sales, with around $6 million returned to local governments.
But it’s not all good news. Since the currently pending medical-marijuana reform legislation would close hundreds of medical-marijuana collective gardens and dispensaries statewide that are currently operating in a “gray market.” That outcome could result in many of those operations moving into the illegal market.
“If current medical market producers and retailers are not provided pathways toward white market participation, and are outlawed instead, it’s pretty clear that will reinvigorate the black market,” said Dr. Dominic Corva, Ph.D., executive director of the nonprofit Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy. “This is not in anyone’s best interests, certainly not the state’s.”
The issue is one of many facing lawmakers on the marijuana front — the most pressing of which is reconciling Washington’s unregulated, largely untaxed medical marijuana system with taxed and regulated recreational sales. Other measures under consideration include requiring a vote of the public for communities to ban pot businesses, and allowing communities greater flexibility in where Washington Marijuana businesses can be located.
For more news articles about Marijuana, Cannabis, Hemp, and Alternative Energy.