One of the most progressive marijuana resolutions in the nation was recently introduced in the 2012 Virginia General Assembly.

Sponsored by Del. David Englin, D-Alexandria, HJ140 would establish a subcommittee to study the revenue impact of legalizing and selling marijuana through Virginia ABC stores.

The Must Try legend.

Virginia’s state-run liquor stores generated $121 million in profits last year.

How much revenue would legalizing marijuana generate? Who stands to lose and who stands to gain? These are questions worth answering.

Crunching the numbers is easily done. Legalizing marijuana would generate at least $208 million in net revenue annually.

That’s a conservative estimate. It’s based on 6.5 percent of Virginia adults admitting to use during the past month in the most recent federal survey.

That amounts to 520,000 regular users out of an 8 million population.

Assumptions include negligible startup costs for existing ABC stores, no advertising, no out-of-state sales, and users generating an average $400 in revenue. Total revenue could be much higher.

Government surveys undercount illicit drug use; many people won’t admit to criminal behavior.

ABC store pricing could be set based on what the market will bear, which is quite a lot for marijuana.

Top-quality marijuana costs upward of $350 an ounce. If legal, marijuana would be no more valuable than any other agricultural commodity. Imagine paying $350 for a tomato.

Mexican drug cartels and indoor domestic growers could not compete with Virginia farmers.

Stores would need to price marijuana low enough to undercut cartels and discourage home cultivation, but high enough to generate revenue.

Legislators eager to maximize revenue cannot count on increased marijuana use.

There is no correlation between criminal penalties and rates of use.

Dutch rates of marijuana use are half U.S. rates, despite legal marijuana in the Netherlands.

Baby boomers who put the marijuana pipe down years ago might pick it up again. Kids would find it harder to obtain.

Marijuana prohibition has created a youth-oriented black market. Unlike Virginia ABC stores, illegal drug dealers don’t ID for age.

Drug dealers would be the big losers under legalization.

Marijuana prohibition effectively subsidizes organized crime.

Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the drug war obsolete.

As long as marijuana distribution is controlled by organized crime, consumers will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs such as me*th, coc*aine and heroin.

This “gateway” is a direct result of marijuana prohibition. Taxpayers would be the big winners.

Six percent of all Virginia arrests are for marijuana offenses. Police time spent arresting marijuana offenders is police time not spent arresting child molesters, rapists and murderers.

Drug warriors are quick to point out that the illegal marijuana trade is linked to violence.

Like the gateway effect, this violence is a result of marijuana prohibition. Almost 50,000 people have been killed in Mexico’s drug wars over the past five years.

With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor suppliers no longer waged violent turf battles.

While marijuana prohibition is equally deadly, the plant itself is relatively harmless.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no evidence that marijuana harms lung function.

If health outcomes instead of outdated cultural norms determined drug laws, marijuana would be legal.

The first state marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration during the early 1900s.

At the time marijuana use was limited to Hispanics along the Southwest border and New Orleans jazz musicians.

The plant’s counterculture association was sealed in the 1960s. Efforts to save youth from the dreaded reefer have resulted in millions caught up in the criminal justice system.

Those busted after the age of 18 are branded as criminals for life in Virginia. The war on marijuana is a failed cultural inquisition, not a public health campaign.

Decades after government anti-marijuana propaganda first piqued interest in an American public that had never heard of marijuana, much less smoked it, marijuana is officially mainstream.

One-third of Virginia residents ages 18-25 used marijuana in the past year.

Marijuana prohibition is the epitome of government failure.

Virginia legislators need to hear from their constituents.

Criminalizing citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis is not an appropriate role for government. If the people lead, politicians will follow.

News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: Virginia
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch
Author: Robert Sharpe
Contact: [email protected]
Copyright: 2012 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC.
Website: www.timesdispatch.com