Reefer Revenue: Could Colorado’s ‘Refund Madness’ Highlight Which State Could Use Marijuana Legalization The Most?

Colorado has such a surplus of tax revenue after legalizing recreational marijuana that the state faced potentially having to pay some of that money back to the taxpayers thanks to their Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). According to The Cannabist, in order to comply with “the requirement that the taxes revert to zero, lawmakers settled on a short one-day tax waiver.” So, on September 16, pot users will be enjoying a significant one-day cannabis sale. In November, voters will be deciding whether or not to keep the marijuana taxes.

“I think it’s appropriate that we keep the money for marijuana that the voters said that we should,” Republican Senate President Bill Cadman said, according to Counter Current News. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, TABOR hasn’t worked out very well for Colorado residents, but Colorado’s high tax income problem from pot begs the question: Which state in the Union could benefit from this kind of reefer revenue the most?

West Virginia leads the nation in financial needs for infrastructure, according to Bloomberg. In order to bring the state’s infrastructure where it should be annually, the state would need 1,035 extra dollars from each resident annually. According to Bloomberg, the state still needs “$1.84 billion a year for road repairs, $58 million for projects to provide safe drinking water and $22 million for development at airports considered significant to national transportation.” Colorado’s tax revenue from marijuana this year could have easily paid for West Virginian’s safe drinking water and airport needs and fixed some of the state’s bridges as well. Conversely, West Virginia could apply such tax income to education, and perhaps rise from its position as the least educated state in the nation.

Still, if marijuana were legal, would West Virginians buy it? Prison statistics seems to say they would. West Virginia has no laws legalizing marijuana in any way, not even for medical purposes, and West Virginia law enforcement makes more marijuana arrests annually than arrests for all other drugs combined, according to the Preston County News & Journal. Meanwhile, West Virginia faces a major prison overcrowding problem.

West Virginia’s laws may indicate that the residents are staunchly anti-drugs, according to the Washington Post, “28.1 percent of West Virginians said they altered their mood with drugs almost every day, the highest percentage of any state.” Plus, the state actually has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S., according to NORML. Drug overdoses in the state surpass even motor-vehicle related deaths. A recent Inquisitr report indicated that in states where marijuana is legalized, accidental deaths from drugs fell dramatically, indicating that perhaps legalizing marijuana in West Virginia would have other benefits to the state besides just fiscal benefits.

“There were about 34 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 West Virginia residents in 2011-13, up dramatically from 22 deaths per 100,000 people in 200709, according to the report released Wednesday by the nonprofit groups Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”

West Virginia has introduced legislation regarding marijuana before, but it still remains illegal. Nearly 93 percent of the residents in the state support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, according to the West Virginia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, but still lawmakers seem to hesitate. What do you think? Should West Virginia take notes from Colorado’s enormous tax revenue problem and just legalize marijuana completely?

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