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5 Ways Cannabis-Tax Dollars Improve Lives

Mark Miller

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The revenue from state taxes on marijuana isn’t just improving infrastructure; it’s also improving lives. Here are five ways how.

1. Reducing Crime

In 2016, Alaska passed a bill directing half of the proceeds from the state’s excise tax on commercial pot into programs intended to reduce the number of repeat criminal offenders. This year, $3 million in reefer revenue (projected to increase to $6 million in subsequent years) will bolster a fund to reduce recidivism rates by addressing the various issues associated with repeat offenses, such as substance abuse and domestic violence.

2. Protecting the Environment

California finally joined the ranks of the recreational pot states last year, and it plans to direct a portion of the expected $1.2 billion in annual tax revenue to its Environmental Restoration and Protection Account. This money will be used to reverse the environmental impacts caused by illicit cannabis cultivation and to discourage illegal grows on public lands that damage the surrounding ecosystem.

3. Helping the Homeless

Colorado’s new budget bill determines the distribution of the state’s Marijuana Tax Cash Fund, which raked in $105 million for the 2016–17 fiscal year. According to Money magazine, $15.3 million of these funds will be used to establish “permanent supportive housing” and general assistance for the homeless and those “at risk” of losing their residences.

4. Supporting Health Care

In Washington State, more than 60 percent of the expected $730 million in tax revenue collected from recreational pot sales over the next two years will be divided among the state’s public-health programs, including Medicaid. According to reports, the marijuana-money boom will enable lawmakers to redistribute $356 million that was previously used to pay the state’s share of its Medicaid bill.

5. Funding Law Enforcement

Even law-enforcement agencies benefit from legal bud. In 2016, Oregon collected $44 million in recreational pot revenue, and after the initial regulatory taxes were covered, 15 percent of the remainder was doled out to the state police, with another 10 percent going to both city and county law enforcement. That’s 35 percent—or more than a third—of Oregon’s leftover cannabis taxes being used to support the police.

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