The passage and enactment of a statewide marijuana ballot measure this fall could generate as much as $60 million in savings and revenue, according to a just published budgetary analysis prepared by the Colorado Center on Law & Policy.
Amendment 64, The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act of 2012, allows for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and/or the cultivation of up to six cannabis plants by those age 21 and over. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retail outlets.
Colorado is one of three states (joining Oregon and Washington) where voters this fall will have the opportunity to substantively reform their state’s personal use cannabis laws. Four additional states — Arkansas, Massachusetts, Montana, and North Dakota — may also be voting on medical marijuana proposals in November.
According to the CCLP report, the enactment of Amendment 64 could result in an estimated: $12 million dollars of annual savings in criminal justice costs, $24 million in excise tax revenue; $8.7 million in state sales tax revenue, $14.5 million in local tax revenue, along with the creation of several hundred new jobs.
Their analysis projects that these savings and revenue estimates may double by 2017.
According to an August survey from the firm Public Policy Polling, Coloradoans favor the measure by a margin of 47 percent to 38 percent. Independent voters strongly back the measure (58 percent to 28 percent) and so do Democrats (59 percent to 22 percent). By contrast, on 26 percent of Republican voters said they favored Amendment 64.
A separate Colorado poll by Rasmussen Reports, published in June, found that 61 percent of state voters agree philosophically that cannabis ought to be regulated like alcohol or tobacco.
Full text of the Colorado Center on Law & Policy white paper is available online here. Additional information regarding Amendment 64 and other 2012 statewide ballot initiatives is available at NORML’s ‘Smoke the Vote’ webpage here.