Recreational Marijuana: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
FLINT-- When you go to the polls on Tuesday, November 6, you will vote on more than just political races for Congress or state offices. You will also decide ballot issues including one that could legalize recreational marijuana. Michigan would become the tenth state with legal recreational marijuana if voter approve but, is that really a good idea?
In an effort to provide you with some perspective, NBC25 News is looking at the potential good, bad and ugly side of legalizing weed with information from proponents and opponents.
When considering the good that could come from legalizing recreational marijuana, it is hard to deny that potentially reaping hundreds of millions in new tax revenue could really help Michigan. In effect, the state would take "millions of dollars away from organized crime, putting it into your state’s coffers so you can fix your roads, so you can help fund education,” says marijuana activist Rick Steves.
Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. It collects sales and excise taxes on the drug. At 15-percent each, Colorado has banked $247 million so far in 2018.
Could Michigan see similar results? Scott Greenlee with Healthy and Productive Michigan doesn't think so.
"In Michigan, its only taxed at 10-percent which would be the lowest rate of any state that has recreational marijuana," says Greenlee.
With only a 10-percent sales tax, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol projects Michigan would see an estimated $100 million in new revenue in each of the first five years.
"While w're not going to claim that thats going to solve all of our road funding problems or solve all of our school funding problems by any means, half a billion dollars over five years is far better than the zero were collecting right now," says Coalition spokesman Josh Hovey.
"Teen use does not go up, DUIs don't go up, crime doesn't go up," says activist Rick Steves.
However, information from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Strategic Intelligence Unit disputes what Steves says.
Since Colorado legalized weed in 2012, Marijuana use among 12 to 17 year olds is up five-percent. It's up 18-percent among 18 to 21 year olds.
"Their youth are now increasing marijuana use at the fastest rate in the country, " says Scott Greelee.
“Every state that has legalized marijuana has seen their auto insurance rates skyrocketing” says Greenlee.
According a Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report, marijuana related traffic deaths are up 151-percent in Colorado since 2012, driving overall traffic deaths up 35-percent since legalization.
“We’ve seen so much harm come about from this, that I really wish other people who were considering it would take a hard look at the data coming out of Colorado,” says Ben Cort, an author, consultant and recovering addict.
Despite what opponents say, those pushing for Proposal 1 to pass feel that since marijuana is readily available right now and so many people already use it, the state should regulate it and stop wasting resources enforcing a law that they feel does not work.
It's your decision to make on Tuesday, November 6.