Opinion: Legalized marijuana could help boost Missouri’s economy

Graphic+by+Rachel+Schuldt

Graphic by Rachel Schuldt

Tyler Tousley | Opinions Editor
From Print [September 15, 2015] | Legacy

Graphic by Rachel Schuldt

Graphic by Rachel Schuldt

In May 2014, Missouri became the 19th state to decriminalize the popular drug known as marijuana—giving offenders a ticket as opposed to locking them up. Now, we may be seeing cannabis on the ballot once again.

HB 800 is a bill enacting the Missouri Compassionate Care Act, which would allow the use of medical marijuana with framework very similar to that of Illinois, which began the legal sale of medical marijuana in January 2014. In places such as Washington and Colorado, the use of marijuana has been legalized for both medical and recreational purposes for more than a year, and the results are breathtaking.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, Washington State received over $70 million from the marijuana taxes between Jan. 1 and July 1 of this year. Regardless of where that money goes, that is $70 million the state was not making before, and obviously people have been consuming pot since long before it was legal anyway.

When Colorado passed the bill for legal marijuana it was approved by voters to have an extra 15 percent tax that will specifically go to improving the Colorado school system, as reported by the Huffington Post. It was estimated that the tax would bring in about $40 million a year. In January of this year alone, they made over $2.5 million that is intended for the public schools.

After learning about how much money was being made because of marijuana taxes and how much of that money was going to the public school system, I became curious about how the students at LU felt about legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use. The responses collected during an informal survey of seven students in Spellmann Center were overwhelmingly positive.

Criminal Justice Major, Katie Teeter said that in addition to the major economic increase, “…crime rates would go down, and we wouldn’t have to worry about putting police officers [out there] to take care of the stupid stuff when they could focus on rapists and murderers.” The stupid stuff in this case being marijuana.

Joe Fritz, a senior at LU said, “The state of Colorado has had so much revenue from pot tax that they are considering giving money back to the residents. If that doesn’t speak miles, I don’t know what does”

A poll by Pew Research Center from 2014 shows that 54 percent of Americans felt it should be legalized, making it clear that the money brought in by marijuana taxes outweighs the moral dilemma faced by voters. If you ask me, keeping cannabis illegal is just irresponsible at this point.