Skip to comments.Is the Governor Blowing Smoke? Marijuana Legalization Is a Net Loss for PA
Posted on 10/20/2020 6:07:50 AM PDT by Kaslin
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is proposing that the state legalize recreational marijuana in an effort to raise tax revenues lost during the Covid pandemic. Ironically, his draconian shutdown of much of the state over the past six months has seriously impacted the PA economy, and hence the states tax revenue.
But its a pipe dream. In Colorado, for every dollar gained from marijuana taxes, taxpayers spend $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization. For Pennsylvania, any short term revenue increase will be swallowed up by the serious long term social and economic effects of legalization.
In fact, if the governor is interested in following the science, the science tells us that legalizing marijuana is a bad idea. The Centennial Institute, a public policy think tank in Colorado, produced a study in 2018 on the social and economic effects of legalizing marijuana, and the results are staggering.
Roughly half a million Coloradans are moderate or heavy marijuana users they use pot anywhere from 6 to 31 times per month. Denver is now known as the Mile High City for more than one reason.
There are huge health costs associated with this drug use. In 2017 alone, Colorado spent a whopping $350 million for cannabis-related hospitalizations. Add in low-weight babies, sedentary lifestyles, drug poisoning, and drug treatment, and the total was over $470 million that year. ER visits and hospitalizations rose 22% after legalization.
Interestingly, crime rates dont necessarily increase with marijuana legalization. Another study in 2018 on the effect of marijuana legalization in Washington State and Colorado found generally no statistically significant increase in reported violent crime. Not surprisingly, after retail pot sales started in CO, there was an initial increase in property crimes, including a significant increase in auto thefts. But there are still costs associated with law enforcement, from DUI court costs to organized crime investigations and juvenile arrests.
Kids age 12-17 make up 9% of pot users in Colorado. They face reduced cognitive ability, memory decline, and problems with attention span and executive functioning. Cops are called to high schools with much greater frequency now. Suspensions and expulsions more than doubled over two years. Marijuana-related dropouts cost the state (and themselves!) another $423 million in lost earnings.
People understandably react to the idea of putting a dollar value on a human life. Economists say that a human life is worth $10 million. But marijuana doesnt kill anyone, right?
Wrong. Driving high can be lethal. Elevated THC levels raise the risk of an accident by 3 to 7 times. According to the Centennial Institute study, 69% of recreational marijuana users in Colorado admit to driving while high at least once. Far worse, 27% admit to driving high on a daily basis.
In 2017 alone, there were 136 fatal accidents caused by drivers using THC. Overall, Colorados traffic deaths have increased by an average of 75 per year since the legalization of marijuana, according to the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Thats $750 million a year, according to economists, a cost not even included in the Centennial report.
A final thought on marijuana tax revenue. In Colorado, taxpayers were told that the revenue would be used for schools and drug treatment. While thats largely been true, the marijuana tax fund has been treated as a piggy bank according to some lawmakers, being spent on a variety of unrelated programs. PA taxpayers should keep a close eye on whether marijuana legislation spells out exactly how the revenue would be spent. While Colorado has recently passed the $1 billion mark in pot taxes, the economic and social costs have far exceeded the revenue.
Members of both political parties in the Pennsylvania legislature should insist that Governor Wolf follow the science and recognize the long term effects and costs of legalizing recreational marijuana. There is no way to get millions of dollars in tax revenue from pot without raising other taxes on Pennsylvanians to cover all of the associated costs. The idea is all smoke and mirrors.
My BS meter is really pegged.
I said in March that if this lockdown thing happens, the states are going to lose massive tax revenues - and they can’t just print money.
And here we are. You think 2020 is bad? Just wait until to REAL economic fallout from this lockdown hits in 2021. Primarily I expect to see price and tax inflation like we’ve not seen since the Carter years.
When Gov. Wolf was reelected (in no small part because of the incompetent and trump-hating PA GOP) his Lt. Gov was successfully primaried by a very shrewd and very hard leftist candidate, Fetterman.
Once in office, Lt. Gov Fetterman was single-minded in promoting pot legalization. The only time you’d ever see his name in print was when he was holding town hall sessions throughout the state on legalization.
Gov. Wolf and Lt. Gov Fetterman have played nice in public, but as weak and incompetent as Wolf has proven to be, especially in light of his response to the Rona, and as clever and committed as Fetterman has shown himself to be, I’m certain Fetterman is calling in his favors.
Of course not. Pot makes you lazy. Lazy criminals don't commit as many crimes.
Pennsylvania officials need to visit San Francisco.
Wolf IS A DISASTER for PA, and the nation!!
GOOD PEOPLE OF PA-—VOTE TRUMP!!!!!!!!!!!!
This will bring out the Dems in droves.
Legalizing pot was a major contributing factor for us getting Whittmer. (Having a weak Republican candidate with no campaign and a Republican governor who gave a tepid, belated endorsement didn’t help either.)
The horrible governors in states like PA and Wisconsin definitely help Trump.
Perhaps pot motels.
Pay at least $60 for an overnight room and buy up to $60 in pot before 9pm for usage in said room before 9am.
This keeps usage from filling urban streets.
Leave it to government to screw up selling weed. Back in the day I knew several young men with NO business experience, no marketing background who sold weed and business was booming! :)
Joe Biden would eliminate hydrocarbon jobs and tax revenues in Pennsylvania.
I wonder if the DEA can seize state pot tax revenue as proceeds of illegal activity?
Just because Wolf say he wants legalization doesnt mean he should get legalization because in other jurisdictions its brought more bills and more misery.
I could see decriminalization, because peoples lives shouldnt be ruined over this, plus there are fines to act as a disincentive.
Wolf isnt up for reelection though. Wolf and his weird lieutenant governor are in until 2022
They could try, but i think it falls under the 10th Amendment.
Please ping me with articles of interest.
FReepmail me to be added to the list.
“In Colorado, for every dollar gained from marijuana taxes, taxpayers spend $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization.”
Reefer Madness BS. The truth about that bogus study:
‘the authors do not include cost estimates for years prior to legalization. In both the social sciences and the medical field, researchers often attempt to isolate the impact of a change in one group (the treatment group) from a similar group (the control group). In this case, the authors could have compared the current costs per year since legalization to annual costs prior to legalization when marijuana was consumed illicitly. Because the authors fail to attempt to isolate the impact, no peerreviewed academic journal would consider the findings credible (Wing et al., 2018).
‘A true cost-benefit analysis would include all the benefits of legalization not just state tax revenues. These include added local tax revenues, income taxes, reduced incarceration costs, decreased policing costs, and lower legal fees. [...]
‘Most glaringly, the authors fail to include the impact of legalization on economic activity, or gross state product (GSP), on the benefits side of the equation. This is a remarkable omission in a cost-benefit analysis. [...] In the case of marijuana legalization, residents and visitors spent more than $760 million on legal recreational marijuana in Colorado in the 12 months between July 2017 and June 2018 (Manzo et al., 2018). Ignoring this economic activity altogether is another blemish in the Centennial Institutes analysis.
‘Moreover, the authors erroneously consider certain items costs when they should instead be listed as benefits. Marijuana arrests represent their biggest mistake. The authors report report that taxpayer expenditures on marijuanarelated arrests fell from $14.8 million in 2012 before legalization to $7.2 million in 2017 post-legalization (Centennial Institute, 2018). The authors inexplicably use the 2017 figure of $7.2 million and call it a cost of legalized marijuana despite the fact that costs have mathematically fallen by $7.6 million per year since legalization. This should obviously be listed as a benefit, not a cost.’
Exactly. Next summer, at the end of most fiscal years, there will be massive cuts in services and teachers. This will be nasty.
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