The First Legislature To Legalize Pot

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 20 2015 @ 2:23pm

Vermont

It could be Vermont’s:

It’s far too early in the process to gauge whether the legislature will approve marijuana legalization. But Gov. Peter Shumlin previously said he’s not opposed to it, although he would like to see more data from Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize, before Vermont follows through.

Last week, RAND released a study on the legalization options for the Green Mountain State. Niraj Chokshi reads through it:

If passed, legalization could have big implications for the region. There are nearly 40 times the number of regular marijuana users within 200 miles of Vermont’s border as there are within its borders, RAND estimates. That means the state could see a huge boost in tourism by legalizing, unless of course other states legalize.

Kleiman, who contributed to the RAND report, is excited:

The Vermont process holds out great promise, because the normal legislative process – ugly as it can be – has the possibility of producing a result much more nuanced and more carefully considered from multiple viewpoints than the initiative process, under which propositions are drawn up by advocates with the advice of pollsters, no one ever holds a hearing, and any idea that can’t be explained in a 30-second TV spot has to be dropped. The key point of the RAND report is that there are legalization options other than full commercialization.

But Josh Voorhees makes clear that full commercialization is working out pretty well for Colorado thus far:

Retail and medical weed generated more than $60 million in tax and licensing revenue for the state in 2014, the lion’s share of which is helping to pay for school construction and the regulatory system that legalization requires. Opponents looking to nitpick can—and do—point to the fact that the total is a far cry from the $100 million windfall that state officials predicted at the start of last year. But even though legalization advocates hyped a major influx in tax revenue as a selling point, evaluating legal weed on a metric tied so tightly with consumption has always been an awkward proposition. The goal, after all, was never to encourage more people to light up a joint or gobble down a brownie. More revenue would be better, but too much more would represent its own type of problem.