Colorado has collected a whopping $506,143,635 in taxes from marijuana sales since legalized sales began in 2014. That averages about $12,650,000 per month. The average is, however, misleading since the sales rate today is much, much higher than it was over the first many months. It took some time to get to the point Colorado is at today. I wonder what the monthly sales rate is today? What will it be a year from today? Ten years from today? The tax rate on medical marijuana is 2.9%, so the vast majority of this money came from recreational use.
51% of this tax goes toward education needs in the state. That is noble BUT what percentage of those educated kids in Colorado will end up using marijuana? What will the future human cost end up being, if that is ever going to be known? The human cost is likely incalculable before the real cost is incurred, and that is the greatest issue I have with this whole make-it-legal thing.
Think about the human and societal cost of the use of alcohol. I suspect that will pale by comparison to this in as short a time as a decade; maybe even sooner given the hard stuff this leads people to use. I know that supporters claim that marijuana is not an entrance drug, that it doesn’t lead to future addictions on the really hard stuff.
I simply cannot accept that. I fear we are opening a door that will equate to Pandora’s Box as the years tick by. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But, if I’m right and marijuana is an entrance drug inviting people to use more and more and that is heroin, where will Colorado be? Maybe the school systems will have nice new buildings, but at what cost?
The total sales last year in Colorado and this is just the beginning, amounted to more than $1 Billion…that is $1,000,000,000! That is no doubt great for the state’s budget at this point, but at what future cost? Will the citizens not involved get fed up with the detritus left behind and bail out? There is already push back and this has really only just begun.
Given the states lining up to tap this vein of ‘easy money’ no matter the ultimate cost, this will very soon be a truly national problem. I can tell you that our local law enforcement and emergency responders are seeking significant increases to budgets for Narcan (naloxone) given the rate of heroin use increasing in our suburban Milwaukee area, and we are not close to a legal marijuana state. Somehow these heroin users got their start, maybe not everyone started on marijuana but I’ll wager the significant majority did. The idea that marijuana will not prove to have been a significant entrance drug inducement is not carrying any weight with the people at the point of contact when it goes bad.
As time passes, I suspect I’ll be proved to have been correct about the ‘entrance drug’ issue, but I will not be happy to have been proven correct. My grandchildren and their children and so on will be paying the price as the future unfolds if we continue to ‘pooh-pooh’ the link between nice little recreational marijuana and nasty old addictive heroin.
There is a very real dichotomy involved when we are expected to believe marijuana has no effect on people who now use hard drugs.