Marijuana Legalization Because of or In Spite of Drug Tourism
Dan McGowan of GoLocalProv has a short round-up of the background and momentum that will be leading into a 2013 Rhode Island General Assembly debate on legalizing non-medical use of marijuana; the article mentions that House Judiciary Chairwoman Edith Ajello thinks there is support in the GA not just for “decriminalization” but for full “legalization” (RI decriminalized possession of an ounce or less of marijuana last year).
The American Interest has published a guide to the policy issues surrounding marijuana legalization including multiple lines of reasoning that will very likely be directly discussed in any RI debate on the subject…
A principal motivation for legalization has been its potential to generate tax revenues. [Colorado’s Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act] CO-LA specifies that the first $40 million raised by its excise tax would be credited to the public school capital construction fund. That figure suggests unrealistic expectations; unless state-level legalization tripled Colorado’s cannabis use, the tax receipts from sales to Coloradans wouldn’t even total that much, especially since the law would exempt medical users from paying taxes and such users account for about a quarter of Colorado’s current regular marijuana users. (Under CO-LA, medical dispensaries would be like “duty-free” shops at airports.) However, there are about fifty times as many marijuana users elsewhere in the United States as there are in Colorado. That, ultimately, is why Federal authorities would not be able to ignore the matter.
“Drug tourism” (users coming to Colorado to buy) could generate significant economic benefits, though not nearly as much as it might for an eastern state with more populous neighbors.