Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I-502 legalized marijuana – so what does that mean for taxpayers?

Now that voters passed Initiative 502 to legalize marijuana, what happens next?

The details about how the new law will work aren't done yet. State officials will draft rules and regulations to figure out who will grow and sell marijuana.

The bigger question, for taxpayers and budget writers, is how much legalized marijuana might mean for Washington state's economy.

As this Seattle Times post explains, there's a lot of debate about the money side, too.
The non-partisan budget people at the Office of Financial Management (OFM) – the ones who crunch all the numbers for the state budget – have done a couple of different reports about the initiative, full of numbers and charts and possibilities.

The budget folks did a fiscal report on the initiative. Click here to read it. Bottom line: by 2015, the initiative might mean $532 million or more per year in tax revenues. Of course, there are caveats, and if the federal government shuts the whole thing down, the financial impact would be zero dollars.
A second OFM report show the estimated impact to different state agencies and such. Click here to read that report.

The Times cites two private sector sources, one of which uses the OFM report to estimate the size of a national marijuana market. One expert quoted is John Gettman, a marijuana researcher from Virginia, who says Washington state's marijuana market could potentially hit $1 billion a year, which would make pot the No. 2 agricultural crop in the state. (Apples are No. 1, milk would be No. 3 and wheat would be No. 4).

To read thos story in Spanish, click here.