Our view: Marijuana might bring state bundles of green

 

November 11, 2020



Chronic, kush, ganja, cannabis, the devil’s lettuce or pot.

Regardless of what you know it as, marijuana and the legalization of its use was a big winner during last week’s General Election. This push for legalization event took place for two of Wyoming’s conservative neighbors. South Dakota voters approved initiatives legalizing medicinal and recreational use of marijuana while Montana voters approved an initiative to establish 21 as a legal age to purchase, use and consume cannabis.

A second question in Montana regarding the legalization of recreational use of marijuana was also approved by Montana’s voters.

That legalization vote comes with a 20% sales tax that will go to the state’s veteran’s services, land conservation, substance abuse treatment and other programs. Of course recreational use of marijuana has been legal in Colorado for some time now and has proven to be a boon for the state.


While more traditional-people may not like the idea of marijuana, a drug that has been demonized for much of the 20th century, being legal in the Cowboy State, it can certainly help with the state’s ongoing budget woes.

It’s extremely likely the Wyoming Legislature will not enact any form of “revenue enhancement,” which let’s be frank and admit to being the establishment or increase of taxes and fees for state services.

The results of the election have shifted the state’s legislature further to the right and with that shift, any notion of the state enacting any meaningful way of bringing in money to support itself is likely lost as well.

But, there will be cuts. A lot of them.

With an amendment legalizing recreational use of marijuana, the state could have a means of creating revenue without a sweeping tax on everyone. If allowed, the state could impose a large sales tax on recreational-use products and place licensing fees on businesses seeking to sell those products. This could go a long way in addressing funding shortfalls projected for the Wyoming Department of Health or the state’s schools and colleges.


We also realize there would be a few industries wouldn’t be happy with the idea of their workers being able to use marijuana. As this is a right to work state, they could easily mandate their workers to not use marijuana while employed by them and terminate employees who have THC, the active chemical in marijuana, appear in their drug test results.

While it wouldn’t be for everyone, legalization of marijuana could provide much-needed revenue to keep the state and many of the programs residents rely on operational.

 

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