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Letter: Legalizing marijuana would boost tax revenue

Legalizing marijuana would boost tax revenue

Around this time last year, New York had accumulated the second highest debt in the country, preceded only by California. A year later, New York still owns the second highest debt – more than $300 billion. As revenue growth becomes a pressing concern, we need to stop focusing on the sliver of the tax revenue pie brought to the table by the Compassionate Care Act, and move the discussion toward full legalization of marijuana.

On Dec. 11, 2013, the State Senate proposed legislation that would enact the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. It is similar to the legislation passed in Washington and Colorado a year ago, and would allow individuals over the age of 18 to cultivate and use marijuana.

These changes will lead to enormous increases in tax revenue, but will also greatly reduce law enforcement costs and open our economy up to a whole new sector of jobs. Hopefully we can learn from Washington and Colorado, and start benefiting from legalizing marijuana.

In Colorado, $1 million in profit was realized the first day of sales. By the end of the first week, $5 million had been reported and by month’s end, $14 million profit was made and taxed.

Nearly a year after passing legislation, Washington hasn’t made a sale and is still setting up infrastructure. Once in place, Washington is expecting to have a more efficient and profitable system than Colorado.

Whether we tediously plan out infrastructure, or take a brute force approach, it’s clear money is on the table – money that New York State needs.

Chris Ruska

North Tonawanda

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