Report on Fiscal Benefits to Passing Marijuana Legalization

The Colorado Center on Law and Policy has released a report on the state and local budget impact of Amendment 64, the November ballot initiative to legalize personal adult use of marijuana in Colorado. The report finds Amendment 64 would:

  • initially result in $60 million annually in combined revenue and savings for state and local governments in Colorado, which could double to more than $100 million within the first five years of implementation;
  • save local and state law enforcement officials more than $12 million in the first year of operation;
  • generate $24 million annually in state revenue for the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) capital construction program
  • create more than 350 new jobs, the majority of which will be in the construction industry.


Using the latest research and best available estimates of consumption and price, this analysis concludes that Amendment 64 would, in the years prior to 2017 generate over $32 million in new revenue for the state budget, over $14 million in new revenue for local governments and would result in savings of more than $12 million in state and local law enforcement spending. Of the new state dollars, Amendment 64 would direct $24 million to the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program that would result in the creation of 372 new jobs in cities and towns across Colorado with 217 of those jobs in the construction industry.

...Colorado's Amendment 64 proposes a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol in Colorado. In addition to state and local sales taxes, the initiative directs the General Assembly to enact an excise tax of up to 15 percent on wholesale sales of non-medical marijuana. This limit can be increased after 2017.

The numbers:

  • $12 million in instant savings for the year following legalization because of reduced criminal costs. As courts and prisons adapt to fewer and fewer violators, annual savings (compared to a pre-legalization year’s budget) will rise toward the long run savings level of $40 million.
  • $24 million new tax revenue generated from excise taxes on the wholesaler (all of which is promised to the Colorado Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund)
  • $8.7 million in new state sales tax revenue
  • $14.5 million in new local sales tax revenue
  • 372 new jobs (217 of which are construction) from school construction projects on behave of the Building Excellent Schools Today Program
  • $60 million total in combined savings and additional revenue for Colorado’s Budget with a potential for this number to double after 2017.
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    comment by diogenes (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 09:05:30 PM EST

    While I hadn't yet read it (none / 0) (#7)
    by sj on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:58:27 AM EST
    I'm sure I'm grateful to you anyway :)

    Is Diogenes banished? (none / 0) (#19)
    by diogenes on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 06:12:35 PM EST
    The comment only pointed out that an increase in cannibis consumption would result in some medical costs (people with histories of schizophrenia decompensating more often) and social cost (more DUI's, as an example).  The comment asked for a balance of cost and benefit from a dollar point of view without opposing legalization.

    Another side to consider (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 09:54:31 AM EST
    The Drug-Free Workplace.

    No easy answer here, especially when it comes down to state law vs. federal law, and an employee's right to get high vs. an employer's right to maintain a drug-free work environment.

    specious argument (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:57:13 AM EST
    how is it different than use of alcohol in the workplace? Employers don't want alcohol impaired workers but alcohol is still legal.

    The name of the bill: Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Why don't you read it.

    (A) Nothing in this Section Is Intended to Require an Employer to Permit or Accommodate the Use, Consumption, Possession, Transfer, Display, Transportation, Sale or Growing of Marijuana in the Workplace or to Affect the Ability of Employers to Have Policies Restricting the Use of Marijuana by Employees.

    ...(D) Nothing in this Section Shall Prohibit a Person, Employer, School, Hospital, Detention Facility, Corporation or Any Other Entity Who Occupies, Owns or Controls a Property from Prohibiting or Otherwise Regulating the Possession, Consumption, Use, Display, Transfer, Distribution, Sale, Transportation, or Growing of Marijuana on or in That Property.

    Also, on a related note:

         (B) Nothing in this Section Is Intended to Allow Driving under the Influence of Marijuana or Driving While Impaired by Marijuana or to Supersede Statutory Laws Related to Driving under the Influence of Marijuana or Driving While Impaired by Marijuana, Nor Shall this Section Prevent the State from Enacting and Imposing Penalties for Driving under the Influence of or While Impaired by Marijuana.

    False equivalence (none / 0) (#9)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:59:39 AM EST
    Alcohol is legal under federal law too.  Colorado can do what it wants with regards to marijuana, (and the paper you cited only talks about Colorado) but it still won't change the fact that marijuana is illegal under federal law.

    Equivalence isn't false (none / 0) (#13)
    by sj on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:07:17 AM EST
    There are lots of contradictory laws on the books.  Your comment was about a "drug free workplace" (a ridiculous phrase IMO, but it's commonly used).  And your link discusses what amounts to reefer persecution.  

    You conflate two issues:  

    First, the employers' right to maintain a "drug free workplace" which, frankly, is easily managed by anyone sane.  And it is the way you presented your comment.  

    The second is the contradiction in the federal and state laws.  If you want to talk about that, fine.  But don't cloak it in "drug free workplace".  


    Should be easy enough to work out... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:15:18 AM EST
    It's not just reefer, lots of medicines cause impairment...vicodin and the other painkillers, allergy meds that make you drowsy, sh&t Nyquil can f*ck you up.  We need a uniform standard for all.

    Another issue is testing...reefer can stay in your system for weeks.  Just because you fail a pee test doesn't mean you've ever been impaired while on the clock.

    We can strike a balance between employee rights and employer responsibilities and liabilities....repeal/revise the drug free workplace law.  Zero tolerance = zero use of our brains.  


    How would you revise (none / 0) (#4)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:51:41 AM EST
    the drug-free workplace law /policy?  

    you don't need to (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:57:34 AM EST
    Off the top of the dome... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:00:54 AM EST
    without really knowing the ins and outs of it...I'd make our pee and blood our property and give employers no right to ask for it, with a few exceptions for jobs where impairment poses a serious threat to others...truck driver, heavy machinery, etc.  And for those cases I'd limit testing to after workplace accidents/incidents occur, and we'd need better tests that definitively show a person was impaired at the time, not two weeks ago.

    For all other jobs, I think we'd be fine doing nothing.  If somebody is getting wasted at work, they will perform poorly and can get fired for performing poorly.  If they can swing doing their job well with a buzz, more power to them!


    I Would Add... (none / 0) (#14)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:04:18 PM EST
    ...that the entire notion is ridiculous.

    Unless you can injure others, employers should have have a right to fire you for anything beyond job performance.  Who cares if the software engineer is dropping LSD, he's cranking out the ideas faster than Stan Lee.  Or the sales guy are doing rails and shots, they are still making the company boat loads of cash.  They are doing the jobs they were hired to do.

    The idea of a drug free work space is as ridiculous as a homo-sexual free work space or an all christian workforce.  Just because that's what an employer wants doesn't mean they should get it.  If they think drugs hamper productively, then the market, which I assume businesses like, will take care of that issue real quick.  If not, then it's nothing more then forcing their morality on their employees.

    That being said, I don't know anyone who is randomly tested at work.  And when I signed up here, I had to sign a statement agreeing to testing.  I have never heard of anyone being tested here more then the original in the door test.  And to be honest, that one I don't have a problem with, if you can't get yourself straight to pass one scheduled test, that might be an indication ability to plan and take the job seriously, or have an actual drug problem.

    So from my point of view, as wrong as the random testing it, it's not something employers abuse, at least not in my experience.


    I know sufferers of "random testing"... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 01:24:55 PM EST
    my letter carrier buddies, my sanitation department buddies, my fire department buddies...all public sector.

    That's a joke too because everybody gets a tip when the p*ss collector is coming to run to GNC.  They get by with a little help from their friends.

    Gotta disagree about pre-employment p*ss collection...it's the principle of the thing bro.  What's more private than your p*ss?  Yeah, ya gotta be pretty dumb not to cleanse yourself, but why play stupid games.  Worth mentioning false positives too, the labs shouldn't have that much power to f8ck somebody over with their sloppy work.

    Back in the day I was hurtin' for a job and resorted to applying at Blockbuster...when they said they p*ss test I almost p&ssed my pants.  Blockbuster Video?  Get the f8ck outta here...who else would wanna work there but a cinema lovin' stoner?


    I Hear Ya... (none / 0) (#16)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 02:45:02 PM EST
    ...but I think if I owned a small business that I would like to know the people I hire having enough responsibility to lay off for a job and I would like to know I'm not hiring an addict.

    What's more private than your p*ss?

    Credit report maybe, which is fairly common, and that to me is far more dubious considering any slap d1ck who thinks own them money can do damage.  I would consider calling an old employers and asking about me pretty private, a doctor grabbing my junk and making me cough is pretty damn private, and required for some jobs.  And now with the internet...

    The point is none of that stuff is random after employment.  Can you imagine an employer pulling your credit and firing you randomly, but with drugs no problem.


    How would you feel about... (none / 0) (#17)
    by kdog on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 03:20:05 PM EST
    hiring a functioning addict?  If I owned a small business I don't think I'd give a sh*t, all I'd care about was the work you do on the clock.  Sh*t my old man was a functioning alcoholic most of his life, and he was one helluva machinist and a valued employee at his job.  They begged him not to retire.

    Any idiot can have clean piss and a clean credit report, and a super employee who busts his arse can have a dirty piss and bad credit...I think employers do themselves a disservice by focusing on lab tests and what Equifax says, instead of looking at the human being seeking employment in front of them and talking to their former employer and co-workers, personal references, etc.  Summarily dismissing quality applicants...but whatever, they're the boss.


    Agreed 100% (none / 0) (#18)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 05:30:03 PM EST
    But, the rules regarding what they can ask are so restrictive, it's nearly impossible to get dirt on a bad employee.  References, come on, who can't dig up 3 idiots to sing your praises.

    We'll just have to agree to disagree.  And not knowing anything about your pops, do you think he could have cleaned it up for a couple days to pass a test to get a job ?  Functioning addicts have that level of responsibility, and that is really my point, can they get it together enough to pass the test.  And to use your words, any idiot can have clean urine.

    As far as hiring an addict, who knows, no way to really tell is there, but if I found out someone was an addict I wouldn't fire them unless they were a problem, but even them seems like trying to help would be my first instinct.  I know I wouldn't hire someone who failed a scheduled drug test.

    And I wasn't defending credit checks, just pointing out that they is acceptable level of privacy intrusion, far more sinister than one's urine.  We completely control our urine, not true of credit, or references.

    I agree about the disservice, but in reality, former employers and references are no more telling than any test.  An unscrupulous former boss can sink you just as quick.  And on the other side of the coin, a little ingenuity can make a crappy employee look real good.

    And off topic, when I was in the military they did random tests, weekly when at sea, monthly when on shore.  They had a box with two dice in it, what ever they rolled, if that was the last number in your SSN, by days end you went to SP office and they watched you, no standing behind you or any privacy.  

    I swear, that fricken box was hot for 8's for an entire cruise.  How I passed what had to be 10 tests on one cruise, nearly all back to back, I will never know.  And they didn't play, they would come and snatch the positives never to be heard of again.  And they were always positives.  And sailors being the idiots they are, it was a kind of a tradition to bet heavily on your number when partaking in the activities they would test for.  


    I don't know about easy answers (none / 0) (#10)
    by sj on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:59:53 AM EST
    but this answer isn't hard.  It's the same as alcohol use IMO.

    jbinc, you get 4 comments in this thread (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 10:58:36 AM EST
    just to remind you.

    Here's my 4th (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Fri Aug 17, 2012 at 11:03:08 AM EST
    Color me shocked.  It's not like we would want to have an actual discussion with give and take and talking about facts or anything around here.  Nope.  We must adhere to that crazy notion marijuana poses no problems whatsoever and believe whatever NORML decrees.

    Good day.