Colorado sold $14 million in recreational marijuana in the month of January, netting $2.1 million in tax revenue. In addition, medical marijuana still outsold recreational marijuana, generating $31 million in sales and netting $1.4 million in taxes. While initial sales figures may be higher than expected due to the rush of customers seeking the novelty of their first legal buy, the few stores that opened often restricted their recreational sales due to low supply. As more stores open and allow more sales, sales and tax figures may rise; however, that may be offset by drops in price as more outlets enter market competition. Governor Hickenlooper’s office estimates recreational will raise more than $35 million in taxes by the end of June. Any way you slice it, it’s $45 million dollars of marijuana not sold by criminals and $3.5 million in tax revenue with no appreciable increase in social costs.
The Missouri House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee is considering a measure to legalize recreational marijuana. Rep. Chris Kelly, a former judge, opposed legalization until he served on the bench. “I saw too many young people whose lives were ruined by using small amounts of marijuana,” said Kelly. Legislators, wooed by today’s news of $2.1 million in Colorado marijuana taxes in one month, heard estimates that Kelly’s plan would generate $200 million in revenues per year starting in 2016. The proposal would legalize household possession of 8 plants, 1 pound of bud, 1 pound of edibles, 2.25 quarts of infused liquids, and 1 ounce of extracts. Medical use would also be addressed, marijuana convictions could be expunged, and licensed cultivators and dispensaries would operate, with a 25% excise tax. The Republicans who run the committee weren’t supportive of legalization, but seemed open to the medical provisions of the bill.
The Los Angeles City Attorney claims to have shut down over 100 dispensaries. Under the recently passed Prop D, which required the over 700 LA area dispensaries to comply with distance requirements from parks, schools, day care facilities and gave preference to the dispensaries that had registered under previous ordinances. However, despite the city attorney explaining, “If they’ve opened for the first time since 2013, they can’t be lawful under Proposition D,” he also has no plans to stop the city finance department from issuing registrations to dispensaries for paying business taxes. According to their records, in the time they’ve shut down 100 dispensaries, 200 new ones have applied for tax registrations, though they aren’t necessarily open and operating. Dispensary attorneys are crying foul, saying the city is sowing confusion and should only be issuing tax registrations to those dispensaries that actually qualify to operate legally under Proposition D.
The Washington DC Board of Elections has given the go ahead for signature gatherers to collect petitions for marijuana legalization. Despite warning from the city attorney general that such a measure would conflict with federal law, activists may now collect the over 25,000 signatures necessary to put the measure on the November ballot. The initiative, if passed, would legalize the possession of two ounces and cultivation of three plants for all adults 21 and older. Adults could transfer up to an ounce to each other for no remuneration, and the initiative sets no regulations for sales of marijuana through storefronts. DC already voted to decriminalize possession of an ounce with just a $25 civil fine, and support in the district for outright legalization stands at 63% in the latest Washington Post poll. The initiative would be subject to the veto power of the US Congress, which has final say over all operations in the federal district.
A new study from RAND Corporation prepared for the White House shows a steady increase in marijuana use, users, and spending over the 2000s. 11 million Americans used marijuana at least once per week in 2000; that number is 17 million in 2010. Overall drug spending nationally has remained steady at $109 billion, but that spending has drastically shifted from cocaine to marijuana. In 2000, cocaine spending was twice marijuana spending; in 2010, marijuana spending is 50% greater than cocaine spending. Heroin use and spending has remained steady and meth peaked in 2005 and then drastically dropped. Despite the 6 million more pot smokers and twice the metric tons of marijuana consumed in the 2000s, the population of cocaine and meth users have declined and heroin users have remained steady. So much for that “gateway drug”.