Charleston Gazette-Mail – In a quip heard ‘round the greenhouse, Gov. Jim Justice admitted in a March virtual town hall that his opposition to recreational marijuana was “weakening” but that the West Virginia Legislature would have to take the lead on the issue. Read the full op-ed.
Had his planned repeal of the state income tax been realized, and a $2 billion hole was blown in the state budget, Justice and the Legislature would almost have to look at legalization. That’s not what ended up happening, but new ideas for revenue are still needed.
That is not to say that recreational marijuana will solve all the problems.
Most of the current debate is rooted in a oft-cited statistic from the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy that estimates the in-state demand for recreational cannabis to be roughly 530,000 ounces priced at roughly $350 an ounce. If we tax “the absolute crap” out of that amount, as Justice suggested, then you get the $45 million a year in projected tax revenue. If correct, that’s a drop in the bucket, compared to what West Virginia needs.
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