Read the tea leaves: It’s time for marijuana legalization in Michigan

Although legislatures across the country have made failure to compromise their hallmark, one thing we might all agree on is the futility of keeping marijuana illegal. The opponents of recreational marijuana are living in 1932. It is only a matter of time before recreational pot’s savior arrives and we see its long-overdue decriminalization.

Michiganders must decide whether recreational marijuana use should continue to be taboo.

In Colorado, legal marijuana – both medical and recreational – has generated $91 million in taxes, licensing and fees this fiscal year to date – an accolade any fiscally responsible lawmaker would be proud to claim. Marijuana is taxed at different rates for medical and recreational use, with the latter at 28 percent.

Gov. Rick Snyder should take a serious look at those Colorado numbers. With road repairs requiring every spare dollar and then some, marijuana could help close the gap. Some money could also go towards education, as well as the municipalities in which the stores (dispensaries) operated.

Legalizing recreational marijuana would be a win for politicians and people. By decriminalizing marijuana, we’d enable law enforcement to fight more serious crimes. Legalization would also ensure consumers aren’t getting street products with cutting agents that are unhealthy. In California, Massachusetts and New Jersey and in a dozen other states, medical marijuana can be legally prescribed to patients suffering from epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, posttraumatic stress and multiple sclerosis. Decriminalization would allow more to use it for its health benefits.

Democrats and libertarians – some, anyway – until recently have been the movers behind legalization of pot. Now the political right is starting to come around; 63 percent percent of Republican millennials believe marijuana should be legalized. Throw in Ron Paul libertarians and fiscally responsible conservatives and legal pot slowly begins to make sense. Let’s legalize pot.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

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Comments

Repulsed Reader
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 9:15am
Dear Bridge - Whose idea was it to publish a guest columnist whose approach to persuasion is to attack and denigrate throughout his opening paragraph? It doesn't matter if the topic is marijuana, education, or preferred brand of toothpaste - many readers tune out to this style. Your timing is also highly questionable. To give such a writer valuable space while you're actively soliciting contributions for your publication strikes me as lose-lose.
Matt
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 10:01am
While completely understanding and being sympathetic with the libertarian view of our drug laws, we still have to ask if society would be benefiting from have even more stoned nonfunctional unproductive people out there? Just a nagging question.
Rich
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 1:30pm
Saying everybody that smoke pot is like saying every black man is a drug dealing murderer. That is such a stereotypical comment There are hundreds of thousands of people who smoke pot who have jobs and lay taxes just like everybody else Saying somebody is lazy because they smoke is just ignorant and stupid. They are lazy because they are lazy that's all
Chris
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 2:39pm
By legalizing Marijuana it is not going to increase the amount of stoned non functional and unproductive people out there. Believe it or not Marijuana is readily available on street corners in every city of our state and country already. By legalizing Marijuana it is giving people a safer and legit way to purchase it. People can and will get weed no matter if it stayed illegal or it becomes legal so why not give the people who choose to use pot a safe and legit way to purchase it from a business rather than a street criminal or gangbangers while at the same time benefit the people of our state as a whole by collecting taxes to go towards crucial funding that our state needs. And from my own personal experiences in the Marijuana culture, I do know a few people who use weed that are unproductive, lazy stoners. But I know of dozens more that use Marijuana that are productive individuals, people that own businesses or work full time jobs for a living. People with family's that are actively involved in their children's lives, people that have a life doing productive, prosocial activities everyday that use Marijuana. Just because someone uses Marijuana does not mean there whole life revolves around getting so high that they are unable to be a functional member of society. Please get all the facts and both sides of the story before making statements that categorize the majority of peoplr with the behaviors of a small minority of individuals. There are responsible people and there are irresponsible people and I would be willing to bet the same people that you are speaking of that are unproductive and non functional stoners would be unproductive and non functional even if they didn't use Marijuana, not because of Marijuana but because they are overall just irresponsible people.
hairman
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 11:14am
Do you REALLY think the best way to fund road repair is to legalize mine/mood altering substances??? We TAXPAYERS ( NOT FREELOADERS ) have been paying enough State & Federal Taxes to repave ALL the COUNTRY'S roads if our $$ was utilizes properly. Stop the flow of $$ to Country's that are trying to eliminate us or funnel OUR $$ to others that are trying to harm us. Stop politicians from taking frivolous trips on our dime( $$ ). Look at the drug addicts in the central park of Amsterdam...and you think that won't happen here!! Put prisoners to work...Teach them how to patch roads...let it be voluntary...might be surprised at the number that want to learn a skill. Almost fell off my soapbox. I have to go to WORK now.
jay
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 1:27pm
So you're saying that everyone that smokes pot doesn't work? If you truly believe that, then you're an idiot. I've been smoking since high school and work hard for my money. I know plenty of people just like me. Maybe you should do some research and know what you are talking about before u get in the soap box and open your mouth. Amsterdam has a lot more going on than just pot, so it's apples and oranges. With alcohol legal, basically what you're saying is that it's ok for people to drink, get rowdy, wanna fight, drive, and kill people... But the guy that likes to come home after a long day of work and hit the bong, watch some star trek, eat a butt load of food, and just chill is wrong. Yup, makes perfect sense. I've never been in any trouble for smoking too much pot and doing something stupid. Can't say the same thing about alcohol.
Rich
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 1:34pm
Why call people who smoke pot freeloaders? They ain't heroin addicts or crackheads. There are more functional people out there who smoke pot than loser freeloaders. Why not take advantage of the money that hard working people are spending to smoke. I myself work almost 60 hours a week on to of owning my own concert promoting company. And I tell you one thing is for sure is I am definitely not a freeloader.
Stu
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 11:55am
Legalizing marijuana to fix the roads....and....taking guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens: Bridge is now Left-of-Center for Michigan
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 12:29pm
cutting agrnts in weed are you serious right now ignorant as hell
Doug Suttor
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 1:35pm
yes. Get over it. Make it legal. Employers can decide whether they want to hire people with THC in their systems. I could not, and would not. Being a small business, it would be impossible to hire anyone who par takes. So as long as it does not affect my family or business, why not. I cannot use mood or mind altering substances, period. If others wish to use pot, thinking it will enhance their lives, let them. See how long they last at a job. If they drive, see how long they keep their licenses.
Paul
Sun, 06/21/2015 - 2:40pm
After reading the comments I'm shocked at the shallow thought process by these critics who obviously do not use cannibus putting cannibus in a box is just as bad as stereo typing individuals these are the type of ppl who are bad for michigans industry fields it's contempt to disfigure the gross benefits of cannibis as a whole is as uneducated as building your house made out of glass next to a baseball field this evasive corrupt component is less relavent than the opinions of the anti marijuana opponents this perpetuates a negative view that eats commonsense as a side dish however now is the time for monetary gain of cannibus not a rebellious attitude of self opinion to which is just as harmful as a shard of glass in the sand marijuana is harmless and less dangerous than alcohol consider this if only one party is allowed to make money off a proposed substance it can create a vaccume to which the state would lose it's wavering audience and lose revenue to a personal group of individuals meaning the public will take full monitory advantage of it before the state can profit move now or lose all,,,legalize all aspects tax and correct the ruins of our roads and benefit the educational programs of our dear home we call michigan,
Brian
Mon, 06/22/2015 - 8:37am
Holy run-on sentence Paul. If you want people to take your comments seriously, learn basic punctuation. The strongest argument against pot might be the comments that appear on this page by stoners. Your murder of basic grammar and spelling reflects the dangers of pot. Sad that so many people can't make it through life without drugs (alcohol included).
Barry Visel
Mon, 06/22/2015 - 8:44am
If it's legal the tax should be 6%...that's what our sales tax rate is. That's what the tax on alcohol should be as well...why it's higher is beyond me. And why we don't charge sales tax on services is also beyond me. A sale is a sale...tax it at 6% and we'd have all the money we'd need for roads. Heck, we could reduce the sales tax rate to 3% and still have extra money. BTW, I've been doing a little research lately, and I find just as many hard bumps on the road are due to uneven manhole covers as compared to potholes. I've concluded there is a lost art of setting manhole covers so they are even with the road surface.
Bob
Mon, 06/22/2015 - 12:00pm
Setting aside all other considerations, the idea that it makes good economic sense for the State to legalize marijuana is just wrong if alcohol and tobacco are any indicators. According to the Tax Policy Center, total state and local revenue from alcohol sales is about $6.5 billion (about $18 billion including federal excise taxes). http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=399. However, the cost to society is $185 billion in alcohol related costs to health care, criminal justice, and the workplace in lost productivity. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/10report/chap06c.pdfSimilarly, Americans spend more than $200 billion on the social costs of smoking, but only about $25 billion is collected in taxes. State estimates found at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/weekinreview/31saul.html?em; Federal estimates found at https://www.policyarchive.org/bitstream/handle/10207/3314/RS20343_200201... Also see http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0072.pdf; Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, see “Smoking-caused costs,” on p.2. $26.3 billion was spent for health care services to treat alcohol use disorders and the medical consequences of alcohol consumption, but Mr. Jones wants revenue from pot sales to go to potholes, not to fix all the social ills that will result from legalization. And apart from the money is the sad impact legalization will have on families – especially kids – caused by increased marijuana abuse and addiction (from 2002 to 2012 the number of marijuana users in the US has increased from about 4.7 to 7.7 million with the advent of medical marijuana laws and in Colorado there are dramatic increases in the number of users among both adults and children ages 12-17 even though marijuana is illegal for those under 21 (high school expulsion rates for marijuana use up 40% according to the Denver Post)). Just as children of alcoholics suffer, so will those with drug addicted parents. If alcohol and tobacco are any example, legalizing marijuana for the purpose of economic benefit to the State is bad policy and I hope our legislators are paying attention to these facts and not just uninformed mouth pieces for the marijuana legalization industry seeking to make a profit off our kids and families much the way the big tobacco has (Jones runs Jones American Political Consulting). The more you know, the worse the idea gets. If Bridge is going to invite guest editorials, they should at least present both sides of the issue. Another disappointing read from Bridge – I’m about to tune out.
Brian
Mon, 06/22/2015 - 3:45pm
Thank you Bob!
Peter Parker
Wed, 06/24/2015 - 12:01pm
Seems the old school PROPAGANDA is live and well ! Pot is and has been around forever, so instead of ignoring this inconvenient FACT, We should dismantle to criminal aspect and its billions in costs to our Gov. that We pay for, and legalize and tax it - it's going to happen - so it's best now and fix the roads. All the comments about stoners and such, one could say "drunkard" and alcoholic" about those people who drink, but the bottom line is most people use pot just like the older generation uses alcohol -- and do fine with it. End the madness of the so-called drug war as even today in 2015 a majority of arrests are still made for possession of MJ and it is insane to continue it.
ArtZ
Thu, 06/25/2015 - 9:48am
Legalize and tax. Law of unintendent consquence is showing up in Colorado from stronger weed to cookies eaten by children.
mike
Wed, 07/01/2015 - 11:40am
I wonder wether we should just legalize pot and deal with the consequences. I know Jermaine personally and he is decent company
ArtZ
Mon, 07/13/2015 - 8:46am
Legalizing recreational marijuana and medical marijuana should be debated based scientific evidence/studies not as a crutch to raise taxes.