Did you know that American marijuana farmers grew 22.3 million pounds of marijuana in 2006 with an estimated value of $35.8 billion. These figures, which include marijuana seized by law enforcement, include 56.4 million marijuana plants cultivated outdoors worth $31.7 billion and 11.7 million plants cultivated indoors worth $4.1 billion.
Five states (California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Hawaii and Washington) had marijuana crops worth over $1 billion. Yes, my dear Kentucky is number 3 in the country for this billion dollar cash crop.
Now, faced with a huge budget deficit, lawmakers around the country are looking at marijuana as a potential legal cash cow. In March, the California Secretary of State announced that the Initiative to Control and Tax Cannabis has qualified for the November ballot. For more on the Initiative, please see http://www.taxcannabis.org/index.php/pages/public-safety-benefits-fact-sheet)
According to the Initiative’s many proponents, the Initiative will give local governments an ability to control and tax the sale of small amounts of cannabis to adults age 21 and older. The Initiative includes significant safeguards and controls: it will increase the penalty for providing marijuana to a minor, expressly prohibit the consumption of marijuana in public, forbid smoking marijuana while minors are present, and ban possession on school grounds.
Studies by the California Board of Equalization and the Legislative Analyst Office show that the Initiative will generate billions of dollars in revenue to fund schools and public safety. Several recent polls have shown the Initiative has the support of a majority of California voters.
California’s tax regulator, the Board of Equalization, which currently collects alcohol and tobacco taxes, estimates that cannabis taxes could generate $1.4 billion in revenue each year, available to fund schools, law enforcement, and other critical needs.
Will Kentucky miss the boat on the legalization of marijuana begun in California? Or will Kentucky General Assembly take steps to tax and control $1 Billion dollars worth of marijuana grown in Kentucky, and plug the Commonwealth’s budget cuts and profuse financial bleeding?
Here is the Bill introduced in the California House. California’s Bill to Legalize Pot