Sen. Joshua Miller (D - Cranston) is once again submitting a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in Rhode Island. As marijuana businesses are poised to open their doors in Massachusetts this summer, Sen. Miller hopes his colleagues will understand the wisdom in acting now.
“Legal marijuana sales will be available to Rhode Islanders as soon as Massachusetts retailers start offering it in July,” Sen. Miller said. “But Massachusetts will keep the revenue from the purchases when Rhode Islanders cross the border to get it.”
This legislation would make it legal for adults 21 and older to grow and possess limited amounts of marijuana. It would also set up a system for the Department of Business Regulation to oversee the licensing and operation of legal marijuana businesses. Most importantly, Sen. Miller’s bill would end the failed approach of punishing adults who choose to use marijuana, a policy which has caused much harm in Rhode Island.
If you are a Rhode Island resident, please call your state senator and representative and ask them to push for a vote on Sen. Miller’s bill.
The Colorado Department of Revenue’s announcement that $1.3 billion in regulated marijuana sales took place in calendar year 2016, generating nearly $200 million in state tax revenue. These figures do not include millions of dollars in revenue generated by local taxes on marijuana.
The Cannabist reports:
To put the state’s third year of regulated recreational marijuana sales in perspective, Year One totaled $699.2 million (combined with medical sales) and Year Two jumped up to $996.2 million. The trend should continue in Year Four, but beyond that? It’s a murkier proposition.
2016 was the year in which the $100-million-month became a baseline and heralded a record-breaking summer: The combined sales for July, August and September were $376.6 million.
Monthly sales topped $100 million in eight of the 12 months. In December, which is typically a strong month for cannabis transactions, pot shops’ sales were a little more than $114.7 million, a 13 percent increase from the $101.3 million recorded in December 2015.
MPP's Mason Tvert had this to say:
“Over one billion dollars in marijuana sales that once took place in the underground market were instead conducted in regulated businesses this year. The state received nearly $200 million in marijuana tax revenue, whereas just a decade ago it was receiving zero. Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for the 42 states that still choose to force marijuana sales into the criminal market and forego millions of dollars in tax revenue.
“Marijuana tax revenue is not going to cover the state’s budget, but it is going to cover important programs and services that would otherwise be left out of it. This money is just the tip of the iceberg. The state is also reaping the invaluable public health and safety benefits of replacing an underground market with a tightly regulated system. Marijuana is now being sold in licensed businesses, rather than out on the street. It is being properly tested, packaged, and labeled, and it is only being sold to adults who show proof of age. The system is working.”
Legal marijuana businesses in Colorado made more than a billion dollars in sales during the first 10 months of 2016, exceeding sales numbers from last year.
The Cannabist reports:
Recreational and medical cannabis shops in America’s first 420-legal state have sold nearly $1.1 billion of marijuana and related products in 2016, according to the new October data from the state’s Department of Revenue.
When 2015’s year-end marijuana tax data was finally released in February, Cannabist calculations showed $996,184,788 in sales at Colorado marijuana shops that year — spurring a leading industry attorney to tell us at the time, “I think it’s ethical to round that up to a billion.”
That same lawyer, Vicente Sederberg partner Christian Sederberg, celebrated the billion-dollar news on Monday by also pointing to the Colorado cannabis industry’s increasing economic impact and skyrocketing tax revenues for the state as well as numerous cities and counties throughout Colorado.
“We think we’ll see $1.3 billion in sales revenue this year,” said Sederberg, “and so the economic impact of this industry — if we’re using the same multiplier from the Marijuana Policy Group’s recent report, which is totally reasonable — it suddenly eclipses a $3 billion economic impact for 2016.”
In addition to creating economic benefits, including state and local tax revenue and thousands of jobs, this legal market is on pace to continue stripping billions of dollars a year from the criminal market.
After a court ruling rejected a challenge from prohibitionists to keep the initiative to legalize marijuana in Arizona off the ballot, opponents of the measure made a last-ditch effort to deprive voters of their right to choose by alleging that the ballot language summary was misleading and the initiative should be invalidated.
On August 31, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the initiative summary was accurate and comprehensive enough to comply with state law, allowing it to proceed.
Unfortunately, a Maricopa County judge removed a critical element of the initiative from the summary. Voters in the ballot box on November 8 will see no mention of this important fact:
Revenue from the 15% tax on marijuana and marijuana products will be allocated to public health and education.
According to the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Prop 205 will raise approximately $123 million in annual revenue for the state and localities, with more than $55 million dedicated to full-day kindergarten programs and general aid to K-12 schools.
Ballot language normally describes where tax revenue is allocated. It’s regrettable that marijuana reform is being treated differently from other issues. The campaign intends to vigorously educate voters about this fact in the coming weeks.
Here is the complete final ballot language:
A “yes” vote shall have the effect of permitting individuals 21 years and older to privately use, possess, manufacture, give away, or transport up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 6 marijuana plants at the individual’s residence; generally declaring violations of the Act (including public use) a petty offense punishable by no more than a $300 fine; creating the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, which includes a 7- member Marijuana Commission appointed by the Governor, to regulate and license entities involved in cultivating, manufacturing, distributing, selling, and testing marijuana products; granting local jurisdictions limited authority to enact ordinances and rules to regulate marijuana and marijuana products; establishing licensing fees for marijuana establishments and levying a 15% tax on all marijuana and marijuana products; and declaring all marijuana establishment contracts enforceable notwithstanding any conflict with federal law.
For more information, visit the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona.
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.
Voters in Washington made marijuana legal for adults in 2012, but they could not purchase marijuana in regulated retail stores until mid-2014. Since then, the legal industry has been raking in money for the state, in addition to providing jobs and depriving criminals of profits.
Washington state took in $65 million in tax revenue from the recreational marijuana market during the first 12 months since it became legal to produce and sell, according to data released by state regulators this week.
The revenue was generated by cannabis sales of more than $260 million from June 2014 to June 2015, according to data released by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which oversees the distribution of cannabis.
Retailers sold more than 23,000 pounds of marijuana of the 31,000 pounds produced in Washington during the year, state data showed.
This is just more evidence that shows regulation works.
According to a report acquired by the Phoenix New Times, Arizona stands to gain $48 million in tax revenue annually by regulating marijuana like alcohol:
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee produced a report in September on the estimated impact of legal marijuana, but didn't release the data publicly. New Times obtained a copy of the report this morning.
Prepared in response to a legalization bill proposed earlier this year by a group of Democrats, the JLBC report shows that Arizona could enjoy a large boost in revenue for schools, health care and other services simply by taxing people who already use marijuana.
The Democrats' bill would have made marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, and would have allowed the plant to be sold in retail shops with an added $50-per-ounce tax.
The bill died in committee back in April, but a similar measure could be revived when the legislature reconvenes in January. Whether or not lawmakers do anything, Arizona voters are likely to see a legalization initiative on the ballot in 2016. Coordinated by the Marijuana Policy Project, the initiative is still in the drafting stage but will almost certainly include a tax-collection scheme.
A report released yesterday by Rhode Island-based OpenDoors estimates that passage of the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act will generate between $21.5 to $82 million in annual tax revenue. Although it would not completely solve Rhode Island’s budget woes, revenue from legal sales of marijuana to adults could help ease the financial burdens the state is facing.
Every day across Rhode Island, otherwise law-abiding men and women purchase and consume marijuana illegally. Proceeds from these sales go untaxed and only serve to enrich criminal actors. Bringing adult marijuana sales above board allows the state to tax both wholesale and retail marijuana transactions and provides much greater transparency over who sells it, where, and to whom.
In addition to the generating revenue, passage of the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act will create hundreds of jobs in an emerging industry.
After years of lobbying by MPP, patients, physicians, and other allies, New York State may finally be on the verge of passing a medical marijuana law.
A Senate budget resolution that passed last night includes a provision that supports including the legal sale of medical marijuana in the state budget. We hope that as the budget process continues, this language will also be included in the final legislation and will be passed as part of the budget process.
Senate Democrats estimate that licensing fees from dispensaries could generate up to $15 million that could go toward closing the state’s $9 billion budget gap.
This is a huge development. Stay tuned to MPP’s blog for updates.
Meanwhile, today, a medical marijuana bill, S. 4041-B cleared the Senate Codes Committee in a bipartisan 11-5 vote. This was the first time the bill passed the committee.
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?