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Legal pot could lower other taxes -- Irwin Kass
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Legal pot could lower other taxes -- Irwin Kass

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I welcome last Sunday's State Journal editorial, "167 million reasons for legal pot," about the legalization of marijuana. But it may have underestimated the potential resulting revenue.

For instance, according to recently reported figures from Colorado, that state's marijuana tax and fee revenue collected since 2014 totals about $1.63 billion. Colorado's marijuana stores collect 2.9% in state sales tax, 15% as a dedicated marijuana retail sales tax, and a 15% excise tax on wholesale sales or transfers of retail marijuana. Fees also come from license and application charges.

Former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner reportedly advocates for legalizing marijuana at the federal level. If Wisconsin and other holdout states do so, this would be a reality. And why not? Marijuana is no more harmful than beer, and it will reduce violent crime associated with its illegal sales. The medicinal value is well documented.

The Wisconsin alcohol lobby should not fear a loss of revenue because a person who wants a cold beer or a shot of whiskey after a long day of work will find marijuana a poor substitute. Further, law enforcement may welcome this change if doing so makes their job easier. Also, wouldn’t it be great if, as a result, other taxes could be reduced or eliminated permanently? 

Irwin Kass, Madison

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