Why Not Solve Maryland’s Tax Issues By Legalizing Marijuana?

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On January 1, Colorado stores sold their first legal marijuana to eager consumers — and so far, society hasn’t collapsed into chaos. Assuming that the state manages to hold itself together for the rest of the year, it may wind up with $40 million thanks to the hefty (25%) tax on recreational marijuana, the Denver Post estimates. (Colorado has already decided to spend its first chunk of pot money on school construction.) And that kind of revenue is already causing plenty of other states with budget deficits to sit up and take notice.

On Friday, the president of the Maryland Senate, Mike Miller, came right out and said it: “I favor the legalization and taxation of marijuana, with restrictions.” That’s a big deal, since Miller is known for being relatively conservative, as far as Democrats go; as the Daily Beast points out, he opposed both same-sex marriage and abolishing the death penalty.

So what makes recreational marijuana the kind of thing Miller can get behind?  “I know where people are going to be a generation or two from now,” he told the Washington Post. Not that he thinks legalization is a likely prospect, at least with Governor Martin O’Malley entertaining dreams of moving into the White House; O’Malley is “always slow on issues like this,” he told the Post.

A few other high-up local pols have various views on the topic. Gubernatorial hopeful Del. Heather Mizeur has proposed legalizing marijuana and using the subsequent tax revenue to fund pre-K education, while Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch prefers to kick the can down the road a little bit: “The whole idea of transitioning into a recreational use of marijuana, I think, needs quite a bit more discussion and debate and understanding of what the practical implications would be,” he told the Post.



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