A state lawmaker in Arizona is looking into legalizing and taxing marijuana in an attempt to increase revenue for the state.
Ethan Orr, a Republican from Tuscon, took a look at the amount of money Colorado has been pulling in via their recent marijuana legalization, and the numbers are hard to ignore. Revenue projections reveal that Arizona will end this budget year roughly $520 million in the hole, and that number could double by 2016.
Orr went on to say, “Given the massive budget shortfall we’re facing, we need to look at revenue and think this is a logical place we need to look. I think it’s time to have an intelligent conversation about it [legalization].”
The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona plans to model their initiative on the recreational marijuana program already underway in Colorado which has allowed adults age 21 and older to purchase and possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a regulated amount of retail shops.
The Legislative Council in Colorado suggests that the state will bring in close to $175 million before the fiscal year in 2017 comes to an end.
Orr hopes that he will gain some support from his fellow colleagues, but he is also preparing for the worst. He says that, “If I don’t think I’ll have the votes, I won’t take it forward.”
Marijuana is already legal in Arizona on a medicinal level, and just over 50,000 residents are enrolled in the program.
Orr also worries that there will be opposition not just from law enforcement officials in regards to legalizing marijuana recreationally, but also from owners of medical marijuana dispensaries who have put in a lot of time and money into modeling their businesses around the state’s medical marijuana laws.