Legalization: $67 million in the pot

In one week, we have $5 million in sales and a projected $67 million in taxes for the state of Colorado and its all from the sale of America’s favorite largely-illegal drug. Beginning at 8 a.m. on January 1, adults in the Mile-High State could legally buy marijuana from 37 state-approved stores at a 27.9% tax rate. On top of the 2.9% sales tax that applies to virtually everything else sold in the state, there is a 15% excise tax and a 10% tax applied specifically to retail marijuana sales.

Money taken in from the retail tax will be spent on enforcing regulations of the newly-formed pot shop business, while, perhaps more importantly, money from the excise tax — roughly 54% of the taxes on pot — goes towards public school construction projects in Colorado. If the money is spent how it should be, that means that in the first week alone $2.7 million was raised to fix schools.

Many considered Colorado and Washington the first steps toward the end of a modern-era Prohibition. And after seeing the results in Colorado — which is estimating that they’ll gain about $67 million this year from taxing marijuana — it should be hard for states to say ‘no’ to the extra money that legalizing pot will bring in.

With ever-tightening budgets, even an amount as relatively little as $67 million in taxes will ease the burden on departments strapped for cash.

Let’s say Ohio legalizes pot at some point in the near future and that a plan similar to Colorado’s is adopted. Imagine what pumping some $60 million into the public education system could do. New teachers, new books, afterschool programs to supplement education and expansion of food programs to ensure that Ohio’s students can eat a sufficient and healthy diet are all things that we can agree would definitely not hurt this state.

And let’s say that Youngstown adds its own city tax on marijuana sales. Can anyone really argue that this city couldn’t use some more money for its public services, such as education or public works or police or fire departments?

As a culture, we’ve gotten more accepting of pot and we’ve already seen potential benefits of mass legalization beyond individual cities. But there still needs to be some social change beyond what’s already been done, things along the lines of proper drug education on the dangers and myths of different drugs.

In the end, those programs could be further funded by the taxes generated from pot sales. And why would we turn down money in the neighborhood of $67 million?