Below you will find information and resources to equip you for important dialougue with legislators.
Financial Impact from Marijuana Legalization
COVID-19 is taking all our time, energy, resources, and attention. Your budgetary decisions to deal with the pandemic will have both positive and negative effects on Virginians for years to come. Thus, decisions need to be weighed carefully with current facts and data. Although opinions and perceptions lead us to believe state revenues will increase from the production and sale of marijuana related products, national data and credible facts show just the opposite. Here is what reputable organizations report from other legal states:
Issues like social justice, the pandemic, and a financial recession haunt the Commonwealth. The decisions of legislators and community leaders today will affect Virginians for years, possibly decades. Therefore, an abundance of caution is needed when weighing the risks against any potential benefits of legalizing a DEA Schedule 1, illicit, psychoactive substance. Although some may think marijuana is a benign or natural plant, the evidence-based research and many reputable organizations have found risks associated with its legalization.
Virginia would benefit from realistically considering the data and implications of marijuana legalization as efforts are made to rebuild a forward thinking, 21st century workforce in light of the pandemic. Workforce development, safety, and recovery affects all constituents either directly or indirectly. There are many ramifications of marijuana use, some of which are unintended, negative consequences.
All legislators could consider the evidence-based data, risks, issues, costs and possible unintended consequences of legalized marijuana even as some legislators write bills to legalize it. An often-forgotten cost is the effect of legalization on insurance rates. Given the toll the pandemic is taking, Virginian’s deserve more assurances of safety, mitigation of risks and thorough decision making regarding economic ripple effects. Virginian’s should not be forced into the illusion of income from the sale of a taxable drug. Virginian’s should not be forced into the false choice between either a war on drugs or legalization since any possible gains would be offset by immediate and long-term costs. The legalization of alcohol and tobacco has been a global public health disaster – why would we go down the same road by legalizing another addictive drug? Virginia could reject false dichotomies, realistically consider all consequences and embrace a smarter approach.
Parents, community leaders, elected officials and legislators are all weighing the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. They are all no doubt panicked about marijuana getting into the hands of children, youth, and young adults either intentionally and unintentionally. Marijuana poses many short- and long-term medical, health, safety, cognitive, financial, academic, occupational, and family risks to adult users. The risks however are exacerbated when used by those under 21. The pandemic has severely disrupted the academic, social, family, emotional, and recreational aspects of youth in Virginia. Legislators and elected official should focus Virginian’s covid and recession recovery on youth and families, not an ill-timed, ill-planned, misinformed legalization effort.