Lawmaker Urges Study on Revenue Impact of MJ Sales

Jan 24, 2012

A Vir­ginia law­maker wants to study the pos­si­bil­ity of sell­ing mar­i­juana through state-run liquor stores, but even the resolution’s spon­sor thinks the provoca­tive idea will likely go up in smoke. The pro­posal by Demo­c­ra­tic Del. David Englin of Alexan­dria to look at the poten­tial rev­enue impact of sell­ing mar­i­juana at the more than 330 ABC stores in Vir­ginia joins a grow­ing list of rec­om­men­da­tions across the coun­try to reform laws regard­ing the most com­monly used ille­gal drug in the U.S. Englin, who also has filed a res­o­lu­tion ask­ing the gov­er­nor to peti­tion the U.S. Drug Enforce­ment Agency to move mar­i­juana from a Sched­ule I drug to Sched­ule II, cites other states with med­ical mar­i­juana laws and soci­etal changes. He said he’s aim­ing to bring in more money for the state amid moves to cut fund­ing for core ser­vices across Vir­ginia. “There are respectable mem­bers of soci­ety out there, secretly smok­ing mar­i­juana on the side, and the money that they use to buy that is going to crim­i­nals,” said Englin, who said he has not smoked and does not use mar­i­juana. “Seems to me that it’d be a bet­ter idea to take that money that’s already being spent and use it to ben­e­fit the com­mon­wealth.” Under the res­o­lu­tion, eight mem­bers of the Gen­eral Assem­bly would be selected to head a study on the fea­si­bil­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity of legal­iz­ing the use and sale of mar­i­juana under cer­tain con­di­tions, and reg­u­lat­ing that sale through the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Alco­holic Bev­er­age Con­trol. Find­ings would be due by the first day of the 2013 leg­isla­tive ses­sion. While most of the feed­back has been pos­i­tive, Englin doesn’t expect that the pro­pos­als, which have been referred to the House Rules Com­mit­tee, to sur­vive. “Any­thing like this faces a steep uphill climb but my pur­pose is to get the con­ver­sa­tion going,” Englin said. “Hope­fully we can start hav­ing ratio­nal, informed con­ver­sa­tions about these issues instead of just emo­tional con­ver­sa­tions.” But House Speaker Bill How­ell, R-Stafford, who also chairs the House Rules Com­mit­tee, said a study on the issue isn’t needed. “A lot of peo­ple do feel it’s a gate­way drug, that it causes all sorts of prob­lems, and I just don’t think we need to do it,” How­ell said. “If you’re talk­ing about rais­ing money, you could prob­a­bly raise a lot more by legal­iz­ing pros­ti­tu­tion or hav­ing river­boat gam­bling or casino gam­bling in Vir­ginia. I think those are all detri­men­tal to soci­ety and prob­a­bly not the kind of thing that the state ought to be involved with and I think the same thing with legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana.” In 2010, then-Del. Har­vey Mor­gan, a Repub­li­can from Glouces­ter County, star­tled col­leagues and endured rib­bing from both par­ties when he intro­duced a dead-on-arrival bill to decrim­i­nal­ize pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana in the Old Domin­ion. He also spon­sored leg­is­la­tion to broaden the use of mar­i­juana for med­i­c­i­nal pur­poses. A late-1970s Vir­ginia law allows for med­ical mar­i­juana for can­cer and glau­coma patients. Twenty-five to 30 states will enter­tain bills this year on reform­ing mar­i­juana laws, said Allen St. Pierre, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the National Orga­ni­za­tion for the Reform of Mar­i­juana Laws (NORML). Four­teen states already have some kind of decrim­i­nal­iza­tion law, and 16 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have med­ical mar­i­juana laws in place. “We would expect that the com­mon­wealth of Vir­ginia will be hav­ing this dis­cus­sion for some years to come,” St. Pierre said. Ed McCann, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Vir­ginia chap­ter of NORML, said the con­tin­ued dis­cus­sion should focus on gain­ing tax rev­enue and not spend­ing money “in vain to con­trol a per­va­sive under­ground mar­ket.” “It is now a ques­tion of what is the best way to imple­ment a new pol­icy … one that pro­tects chil­dren by mov­ing mar­i­juana sales from the cor­ner to the counter, from an uncar­ing dealer to a state-regulated clerk,” McCann said in an email state­ment. Source: Asso­ci­ated Press (Wire) Author: Michael Fel­ber­baum, The Asso­ci­ated Press Pub­lished: Jan­u­ary 23, 2012 Copy­right: 2012 The Asso­ci­ated Press

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Law­maker Urges Study on Rev­enue Impact of MJ Sales

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