Shayne Spence: A Republican support of legalizing marijuana
“The economic impact from this policy would be immense, immediately creating thousands of jobs and bringing many more existing jobs out of the shadows. ”
’m a former Republican campaign operative, Ethan Allen Institute legislative staffer, and proud member of the Republican Party. And I’m here to talk about all the many reasons Vermont should approve H.167 and legalize marijuana for recreational use. Popular opinion on this issue has undergone a sea change over the last couple of decades, with over half of the country now allowing the use of medical marijuana, and an ever-increasing contingent of states legalizing the herb for recreational use within the last decade. Fellow New England states Maine and Massachusetts joined these others last November, when voters in both states approved ballot measures supporting legalization. This puts Vermont in an awkward position of potentially missing out on the massive economic and tourist benefits that legalizing marijuana would bring us. Not to mention, it puts the state that has prided itself on being “first in the nation” on so many other issues far behind many other states who have already moved beyond this archaic law.
As a conservative, one of the major things I look for in any new policy is the dollar signs. In Vermont, we face an ever-increasing cost of living, and no small part of that is the tax burden. Hard-working Vermonters are paying more and more each year, and their incomes are remaining stagnant, causing many to fall behind. However, state government is falling behind as well, spending more than they are taking in year after year. This forces them to raise taxes to fill the budget holes, as we have seen time and time again. One major benefit of legalizing marijuana is bringing all of that illicit money into the legal market, allowing states to tax the sales. Colorado in particular has put this to great effect, using all proceeds from legalized marijuana sales to pay for law enforcement, drug education programs, and general education expenses. One county has decided to use their revenues to give every high school graduate $1,000 for whatever form of higher education they decide to take. This kind of creative thinking is what we need to address ever-rising property taxes while we work to control our education spending.