Fears about potential negative effects of legalized recreational marijuana seem to have been exaggerated at the announcement Colorado’s final haul in tax revenue after it’s first fiscal year of sales: $44 million.
The total, which came Tuesday on the heels of the release of Colorado’s December sales taxes, were lower than some original estimates that guessed Colorado could stand to bring in as much as $70 million in tax revenue. While the final tally has come in a bit lower than some may have expected, the $44 million has already been put to various uses, including the funding of substance-abuse treatment to additional training for police officers, the number also represents a strong support factor for those arguing for the legalization and taxation of marijuana.
“Being able to claim some non-trivial tax revenue is important to the legalization movement,” Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard University economist who follows national drug policy, told the Associated Press.
The legality movement has gained momentum more and more in recent years. At present, 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some fashion. Four of those states, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Alaska, allow for recreational use of the plant and most recently, D.C. residents voted overwhelmingly this past November to approve a ballot initiative legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the country’s capital.
The news of Colorado’s final tax revenue total is just the latest to show that, despite any claims to the contrary, the effects of legalization thus far are positive.
Just two days ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a study showing that unlike those who drink and drive, people who drive stoned are no more likely to crash than those who drive sober. That study came on the same day that CNBC reported that legalized marijuana has contributed to taking away power from Mexican drug cartels and making the U.S. – Mexican border safer, as the total number of homicides in Mexico have dropped from 22,852 in 2011 to 15,649 in 2014. And just one week ago in an interview with CBS “This Morning”, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy stated that medical marijuana works as a legitimate medicine.