Toke up, Iowa.
Medicinal. Recreational. Whatever.
Let’s do it.
This is not for me. I’ve smoked weed twice. I liked it.
But I spend big money on pharmaceuticals to keep my brain chemistry regulated. I worry weed, however benevolent, would put stress on a system already not up to code.
No, the reason I want legal weed and the reason every Iowan should is the oldest reason in the world: money.
More specifically, tax revenues.
The coronavirus pandemic kicked us in the rear end when it comes to projected sales, business and other tax revenues.
Our schools and public works will suffer greatly unless we do something to get money pouring back into the local and state accounts.
Legalizing marijuana for any and all purposes is one route.
It’s not the only route and it certainly won’t fix projected shortfalls in city and state budgets alone.
But it will sure help.
Early projections of heavily populated states such as California raising $1 billion from legalized pot sales proved laughably wrong. California made about $500 million in revenue for the fiscal year that ended in June 2019.
Still, that’s $500 million into the state’s general fund that wasn’t there before and didn’t involve income tax or property tax increases.
Colorado raked in more than $250 million and Washington more than $450 million.
Iowa, of course, has a much smaller population than those states and, thus, fewer people who would indulge in recreational marijuana.
But the idea deserves serious consideration.
People justifiably worry about addiction.
That’s a legitimate concern.
Except that very few people scream and holler about addiction to alcohol, which is far more common. We allow beer and booze to be associated with every event save high school sports.
If there’s a good time to be had, it’s to be had with beer. Count the commercials for beer in a baseball game when the season finally starts up later this month. I’ll bet its more than runs scored in most games.
Legalizing marijuana also takes some of the burden off police officers during this era of racial reckoning.
Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have called on mayors in Des Moines and across the country to make marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement concern.
Lowest? Let’s try no concern at all.
A buddy of mine served as a military police officer and then member of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command.
He often said he never went to a violent domestic abuse scene where everybody was stoned. He never went to a bloody fatal vehicle crash where the driver was stoned.
It was always alcohol.
Legalizing pot won’t solve the pending budget crises brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment curtailed consumer spending, which is more than 70 percent of the national economy.
Iowa schools have shifted some of their physical plant costs to sales tax revenues. When those revenues drop, as they have during the pandemic, school buildings start to decay and development gets delayed.
Iowa added another penny-per-dollar to its sales tax to pay for billions in delayed road repairs and improvements. Sales stagnated for nearly a quarter of 2020 and may be hit again if a predicted coronavirus resurgence or second wave hits.
Unemployment remains high.
State income tax increases are almost a certainty baring an economic miracle in the coming months.
Everyone hates income taxes.
Well, I don’t think that’s precisely true.
People hate government waste, and the dominate narrative for several generations now is that almost anything the government does is wasteful.
That isn’t true, either. But let’s not get into that here.
What Iowa lawmakers need to do is get creative.
The road ahead is bumpy. Legalized recreational marijuana might smooth things out in more ways than one.
Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.
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