Last week, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in an effort to legalize marijuana across the nation and penalize local communities that want nothing to do with this dangerous drug. This is the furthest reaching marijuana legalization effort to date and marks another sad moment in our nation’s embrace of a drug that will have generational consequences.
Our country is facing a drug epidemic. Legalizing recreational marijuana will do nothing that Sen. Booker expects. We heard many of these same promises in 2012 when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.
In the years since, Colorado has seen an increase in marijuana related traffic deaths, poison control calls and emergency room visits. The marijuana black market has increased in Colorado, not decreased. And, numerous Colorado marijuana regulators have been indicted for corruption.
In 2012, we were promised funds from marijuana taxes would benefit our communities, particularly schools. Dr. Harry Bull, the Superintendent of Cherry Creek Schools, one of the largest school districts in the state, said, “So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.”
In fiscal year 2016, marijuana tax revenue resulted in $156,701,018. The total tax revenue for Colorado was $13,327,123,798, making marijuana only 1.18 percent of the state’s total tax revenue. The cost of marijuana legalization in public awareness campaigns, law enforcement, healthcare treatment, addiction recovery and preventative work is an unknown cost to date.
Sen. Booker stated his reasons for legalizing marijuana is to reduce “marijuana arrests happening so much in our country, targeting certain communities — poor communities, minority communities.” It’s a noble cause to seek to reduce incarceration rates among these communities but legalizing marijuana has had the opposite effect.