Legalization of Marijuana in the state of Wisconsin.By Melissa GottfredsenFor centuries marijuana, otherwise known as pot, weed or cannabis was a productive crop that produced hemp and cannabidiol. For many years people used the plant for its medicinal and industrial properties. When the plant is grown for industrial uses, it is called hemp. Hemp fibers can be made into fabrics, rope, and paper (Ghose, 2017). It was not until the early 1930s, when the drug was associated with Mexican immigrants that the United States prohibited the use and sale of marijuana in 1937 (Ghose, 2017).
The state of Wisconsin should legalize marijuana to reap the benefits of new tax revenue streams, new jobs, medical advancement and to decrease the number of marijuana arrests.Many states have benefitted from the tax revenue on legalizing marijuana. Nevada Department of Taxation reported the state collected an astounding $69.8 million in sales tax revenue from all medical, wholesale and retail marijuana sales. The $69.8 million is only 0.13% of all taxes collected in the state (Sisolak, 2019).
According to the Colorado Department of Education website, Colorado has seen a monetary tax surplus of legalizing recreational marijuana. In 2015, the voters approved the state to keep a 40-million-dollar surplus disbursement to deposit in the school construction capital fund. Most states have also instituted a license for growing and selling marijuana bringing in more money into the state that would be missed if the ban was not lifted. Wisconsin could benefit from the additional tax monies collected. The surplus revenue could be utilized for education by building new schools, repairing outdated infrastructure, resources for drug and sex trafficking.Jeffery Miron, a Harvard Economist (as cited by Fernandez, 2019) estimated Wisconsin spent 170.5 million on the enforcement of the current prohibition policy in 2008. Melissa Sargent, a Wisconsin state representative (as cited by Fernandez, 2019) states As of today, each stop a police officer makes for simple marijuana possession costs taxpayers $425, on average If Wisconsin decriminalized marijuana, the state could move funds once used to enforce the marijuana prohibition to larger issues the community faces such as the opioid epidemic and sex trafficking. It may sound counterintuitive to legalize one drug to fight against another but the prohibition of weed promotes black-market sales which only benefits gangs and drug cartels. (O’Hara, 2014)After Congress voted for the prohibition of the sale and use of marijuana, drug lord Don Juan changed his families focus from selling bootlegged alcohol to marijuana in the US (Foster, 2013). From that point on all sales of marijuana were on the black market giving his cartel and others, large profits. When states legalize the sale of marijuana, the cartels and gangs lose money. It reduces the number of drugs coming through the southern border with Mexico. According to Mary O’Hara since the US started to legalize marijuana pot farmers in the Sinaloa region [Mexico] have stopped planting due to a massive drop in wholesale prices, from $100 per kilo down to only $25 (2014). The choice to legalize in more states has a trickle-down effect on several aspects. Since the marijuana farmers are not making any money off growing marijuana anymore, they are ceasing their production. The cartels are not moving as much marijuana through the border; thus, the illegal drug trade and gang activity are diminishing. It is no surprise that Wisconsin jails and prisons are overpopulated because of the current laws on marijuana. According to the ACLU website, 88% of drug arrests were for people carrying a small amount of weed. By decriminalizing the drug there would be less low-level incarcerations which in turn will ease the overpopulated prison system. Steve Apps reported in the Wisconsin State Journal, The decriminalization proposal would remove all state penalties for possessing, manufacturing or distributing marijuana in the amount of 25 grams or less (2019). That does not mean that everything pertaining to marijuana would be decriminalized. For example, in Colorado driving under the influence, selling without a state license, buying and selling to underage persons, smoking on federal land, or carrying more than the legal amount is still a criminal offense (Laws about marijuana use, 2016). There are possibilities of new crimes being committed. The theft of the drugs and cash at the dispensaries would be new a target for criminals to attack. Since marijuana is not legal on the federal level, sales transactions are in cash (PaymentPop 2018).There is evidence in Colorado that show State-level control of cannabis creates a highly-localized industry. Almost all spending on marijuana flows to workers and businesses within the state. As a result, the marijuana industry generates more local output and employment per dollar spent than almost any other Colorado sector (Light, Orens, Rowberry, & Saloga, 2016, p. 2). After recreational use of marijuana was legalized in Colorado the gross domestic product increased 3.6% per capita, real estate values increased, and indirectly related jobs like bookkeeping, electricians, security and legal representation also increased. The marijuana sales help keep the proceeds in the state where they were gown and directly helping those in indirect markets. (Light, Orens, Rowberry, & Saloga, 2016)Real estate would be impacted by legalizing marijuana. The newly formed Cannabis businesses are looking for commercial space to house their stores and grow their products (Light, Orens, Rowberry, & Saloga, p.7 2016). Residential real estate could also benefit by drawing people to Wisconsin communities by the newly created job market. For example, Reltor.com reported (as cited by Farrell, 2017) in Colorado jurisdictions allowing the sale of marijuana, the median residential home value rose from $248 thousand in 2014 to $305 thousand in 2016. The business of growing and selling marijuana would not have it easy to get a mortgage or lease for the properties as the drug is still federally prohibited and assets could still be seized by the federal government (Farrell, Dealing with Real Estate Transactions, 2017). These new businesses would need to have some major cash to back up their venture as most banks will not lend because of the collateral could be seized by the federal government.Studying marijuana’s two main cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) for medicinal treatments would be beneficial. Some well-known THC treatments are able to help those suffering from issues of nausea, pain, and appetite loss. Treatments with non-intoxicating CBD are used more for reducing pain, muscle spasms, seizures and possibly mental illness and addiction (Marijuana as Medicine, 2018). A study recently conducted on animals by three scientists Katherine Scott, Angus Dalgleish and Wai Lui (as cited in Marijuana as Medicine) found signs of increased cancer-killing effects when combined with radiation, marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one cell culture study with rodents suggests that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors (2018). A Wisconsin State Council of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse review indicates their guidelines if the state were to legalize marijuana. They list 5 recommendations, which includes the encouragement of further research and development for pharmaceutical applications. (2016) In November 2018, 16 Wisconsin counties and two cities voted overwhelmingly to pursue legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin. The voices were heard by state representatives but so much more needs to be known before full legalization can occur. Some legislators flat out refuse to hear the argument for legalization, Republican leaders say they won’t support recreational use, and only some are open to making it legal for medical use (Fannon 2019). The Wisconsin Council of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse notes there are concerns of legalization of marijuana, which include adverse psychiatric effects, drugged driving, cognitive decline with long-term use, potential addiction and withdrawal symptoms (2016). Pew Research center (as cited in Why Americans Support or Oppose Legalizing Marijuana) conducted surveys about legalizing marijuana. Some of the opposition concluded that marijuana should stay illegal because it is considered a gateway drug, and it can lead to drug abuse or addiction in adults and adolescence (2015). A measure that could be implemented to combat these issues is to increase drug classes with the younger generations. The schools should conduct more in-depth DARE classes to students. Instead of only having 5th-grade students learn about DARE concepts the school system should expand those teachings and bring it to middle school and high schools, so children can build on those values and have less temptation to give in to peer pressure. Again, the marijuana tax funds that are generated would be able to fund new and expanding drug programs for the entire state without increasing the existing tax rates. Wisconsin’s neighbors, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan voted to legalize medicinal cannabis in years past. Recently both Illinois and Michigan have introduced or installed legislation to legalize recreational use. Melissa Baldauff, a Wisconsin Governor spokesperson (as cited by Apps) states The medical-marijuana plan would be modeled on Minnesota’s, but without Minnesota’s prohibition on users being able to smoke the drug (2019). Wisconsin would very likely evolve into a conservative limitation matching their neighbors’ regulations. As more states move toward legalizing marijuana, the less opportunity there is for the remaining states to collect on this new wave of revenue. There will come a time when the fad of legalizing marijuana dies down and it is just a normal part of everyday life. Whether Wisconsin decides to legalize medicinal marijuana or full legalization of recreational marijuana, the state would benefit. The legalization of marijuana would create new jobs and new tax revenue and would also allow the state to regulate it. Wisconsin should listen to the majority of their residents by legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana.ReferencesApps S. | Wisconsin State Journal via AP 2018. (2019, February 17). Evers to propose decriminalizing recreational marijuana in Wisconsin. Retrieved from E. (2019, January 09). The future of CBD and Marijuana in Wisconsin. Retrieved from A. (2017, November 30). The Budding Impact of Marijuana on Real Estate. Retrieved from J. (2019, February 12). Marijuana Legalization Would Save Wisconsin Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Every Year. Retrieved from Foster, Z. (2013, August 27). Prohibition Spawned Mexico’s Oldest Drug Cartel. Retrieved from Ghose, T. (2017, May 18). Marijuana: Facts About Cannabis. Retrieved from about marijuana use. (2016, August 16). Retrieved from M., Orens, A., Rowberry, J., & Saloga, C. (2016). The Economic Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado. The Economic Impact of Marijuana Legalization in Colorado, 1-25. 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