by Steve Birr
Advocates in five states are pushing for recreational marijuana legalization this election year in tight races, arguing the industry will be a revenue boon for their states.
The ballot initiative in California is getting the most attention, holding roughly 60 percent popular approval in polling and promising to rake in enormous revenue for the state. Proposition 64 would allow anyone over 21 to possess one ounce of Marijuana and grow up to six plants in their home. A 10 percent sales tax will be in place on all sales and could earn the state more than $1 billion in annual revenue, reports Forbes.
“My personal opinion is that it’s already a $2 billion market today and I think it could grow very rapidly to $5 billion,” David Dinenberg, chief executive officer of KIND Financial, told Forbes. “It’s going to be a monster market.
Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada also have recreational legalization on their ballots with similar possession laws and 10 to 15 percent sales taxes. Polling in Nevada shows a tight battle to win public opinion, with 47 percent supporting and 46 percent opposing. Support for legalization in Arizona is similarly tight with roughly 50 percent support.
Massachusetts appeared to be an uphill battle months ago but recent polling shows 53 percent support legalization. The market could net the state more than $300 million in annual revenue. Maine is also likely to pass their ballot approving recreational marijuana use, reports The Washington Post.
“These poll numbers are not surprising,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told The Washington Post. “Most Americans agree that the responsible adult use of cannabis ought not to be criminalized. The battle now is finding consensus regarding the details of how best to regulate this market.”
Even if the ballots pass, implementation will be another hurdle for advocates of legalization. Washington, D.C.’s, 2015 marijuana ballot initiative passed with roughly 64 percent support, but the legalities of the referendum remain in limbo a year later due to disagreement from Republicans in Congress. The House of Representative holds fiscal power over D.C. and currently bars the D.C. Council from using appropriated funds for taxing or regulating marijuana.