UPDATE: The Grand Canyon Institute, an independent Arizona-based think tank, has released a report that concludes the proposed initiative to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Arizona would likely raise more money for schools than backers of the initiative estimated last month.
According to a press release issued by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol:
According to the Grand Canyon Institute, a “centrist think-thank led by a bipartisan group of former state lawmakers, economists, community leaders, and academicians,” tax revenue from the initiative would initially generate $64 million annually, including $51 million for K-12 education and all-day kindergarten programs. It estimates that by 2019, once the new system is fully rolled out, it would raise $72 million per year, including approximately $58 million for public education.
“The Grand Canyon Institute…finds that the revenue projections were conservative as proponents claimed,” the report reads. “The revenue gains do exceed the $40 million espoused by proponents of the initiative.”
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona held a press conference at the State Capitol Wednesday to highlight the fact that the initiative would generate more than $40 million in annual funding for public education in Arizona.
The initiative includes a 15% tax on retail marijuana sales, and 80% of that funding would be allocated to public schools and full-day kindergarten programs.
The campaign conservatively estimates that this tax would generate more than $40 million each year, and it could be an even higher amount than that.
A study looking at survey data pooled in 2010/11 comes from Northern Ireland and reveals that marijuana use rates tend to be greater for those engaged in higher education, and are also consistently lower in groups that left education before age 15.
As it turns out, the group most frequently using marijuana in their lifetime is a composite of professionals and managers, whereas marijuana useage is lowest among semi-skilled and unskilled laborers. This information is also consistent with data gathered in the United States.
42.9% of Americans surveyed have admitted to trying marijuana at least once. Info gathered by the U.S. government in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive reveals that of those surveyed who had attained less than a high school education, 25% have tried marijuana and 75% have not. 41.6% of high school graduates have tried marijuana, and 58.4% have not tried it. For those who have received between one and three years of college education, 49.8% have tried it and 50.2% have not. Finally, those who received four or more years of college education had a 45.5% population who have used marijuana, and 54.5% have not used marijuana.
This data holds that a predisposition towards marijuana use does not exist for those who are uneducated. In fact, the exact opposite is quite apparent. While the study only shows that increased education is an indicator of potential marijuana use, it is possible that with increased education comes more knowledge about the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and other drugs.
It is clear, however, that the many of the negative stereotypes of marijuana users are proving to be nothing but myths.
The infamous school drug-education program known as D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) may be removing marijuana from its curriculum. D.A.R.E. officer Mike Meyer of Kennewick, Washington explains that program’s materials for December make no mention of the substance, though he says he does not know why.
If true, this is a welcome step, although eliminating D.A.R.E. altogether would be preferable. All credible studies of the program, including a report from the Government Accountability Office, have failed to find any decrease in drug use connected with participation in D.A.R.E. Officials with the organization have apparently been slow in admitting this, however. In a libel suit brought by D.A.R.E. against Rolling Stone magazine, Federal Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that allegations printed in the magazine, including that D.A.R.E. had actually tried to suppress scientific research critical of the program, were “substantially true.” D.A.R.E. appealed the decision, but the Ninth Circuit Court upheld the ruling.
Although D.A.R.E. officials admitted their failure in 2001 and proposed a new, less hysterical curriculum, research since then has still failed to demonstrate any success. The “new” curriculum, as it is described on the website, does not seem to involve any increased commitment to facts, but rather now involves “role-playing sessions” and “discussion groups.” The summary of the new program, revealingly, makes insinuations that drug use is connected to terrorism, and in place of facts, explains that officers will be using “stunning brain imagery” as “tangible proof of how substances diminish mental activity, emotions, coordination and movement.”
Although they have possibly abandoned the anti-marijuana crusade in their school curriculum, D.A.R.E. still disseminates dishonest information on their website. An ironically named “fact sheet” repeats claims that marijuana “has a high potential for abuse,” and although it is short on the details or prevalence of this abuse, it does claim that marijuana can weaken the immune system and cause insanity and lung disease. The “fact sheet” categorically denies the medical benefits of marijuana, suggesting that it causes only “inebriation.” At the same time, it admits that THC, which the page describes as “the psychoactive [in other words mind-altering or “inebriating”] ingredient in marijuana,” has medical benefits. It implicitly denies the countless cases of experiences of medical marijuana patients who tried conventional treatments without success, claiming simply that “existing legal drugs provide superior treatment for serious medical conditions,” and “the FDA has approved safe and effective medication for the treatment of glaucoma, nausea, wasting syndrome, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.” The page even quotes the Institute of Medicine study, “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,” the very same study which confirms the medical usefulness of marijuana and refutes claims that it poses a major proven risk of addiction or lung cancer, or that it causes brain damage, amotivational syndrome, suppression of the immune system, use of other illicit drugs, or premature death from any cause. The study further points out the shortcomings of existing legal medications for the relevant medical conditions, including the slow and unreliable action of synthetic THC pills.
According to Mike Riggs at Reason, D.A.R.E. headquarters has neither confirmed nor denied any shift in policy.
If you are one of the many people that showed your friends, co-workers, and family the video of Columbia, Mo. SWAT officers raiding the home of Jonathan Whitworth and shooting his dogs immediately after kicking in the door, then you helped make a real difference for the people of Columbia and elsewhere.
According to Ken Burton, police chief of Columbia, the public outcry that followed the release and viral spread of this disturbing video forced his department to make major changes to the way in which it uses its SWAT teams. The direct result of this has been that “dynamic entry” of the sort that led to the tragic events in the video has not been used for drug enforcement once in 2011!
This is a wonderful example of how information-sharing and public pressure can have a direct impact on the unjust and violent policies of the war on drugs. We have the power to change things for the better, and we have to use it. Simply sharing videos is not enough, however. We need to consistently engage anyone and everyone on the issues arising from the prohibition of marijuana, and keep doing so until the truth is impossible to ignore. This is a good start!
Utah’s lawmakers are getting a little desperate in their search to alleviate the state’s $700 million budget shortfall. One in particular, state Sen. Chris Buttars, is now proposing that Utah cut costs by eliminating the 12th grade, or at least giving students the option of skipping their senior year of high school.
Well, I have a better idea for how Utah could bring in new revenue and keep kids in the classroom at the same time.
If Utah really wants to rake in the big bucks, the state should tax and regulate marijuana, the nation’s largest cash crop. Doing so would produce untold millions in new tax revenue and save millions more in reduced law enforcement costs. Marijuana is already pervasive in our society, and right now the only people making a profit from it are criminal drug dealers.
Sure, the idea might seem extreme for some in Utah, but is it any more crazy than sacrificing the education of the state’s young people?