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States Consider Improving Fiscal Health by Legalizing Marijuana  

Improving Fiscal Health by Legalizing Marijuana

Pennsylvania’s Auditor considers improving fiscal health by legalizing marijuana.

According to an Article in Time Magazine, Pennsylvania’s auditor has an idea to combat the state’s budget deficit — legalize recreational marijuana.

Eugene DePasquale, the state’s auditor, said Monday at a news conference that legalizing marijuana could amass at least $200 a year for Pennsylvania.

That projection is based on the model of marijuana regulation used in Colorado, which Mr. DePasquale said generated $129 million in a year with a population less than half that of Pennsylvania’s.

“I wasn’t necessarily convinced Pennsylvania should be the first, but now that we have actual results and data from other states, the evidence is clear that this can be both good socially and fiscally,” Mr. DePasquale said.

In 2016, taxing marijuana brought in $220 million in Washington, $129 million in Colorado and $65.4 million in Oregon, according to Mr. DePasquale’s office.

He did note that it was only one of many ideas he has on how to close the state’s budget gap, which could be as high as $3 billion for the next two years.

Pennsylvania has a budget shortfall projected at nearly $3 billion over this year and the next. In February, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed closing that gap through a combination of spending reductions and new taxes.

The auditor general, who serves as the state’s fiscal watchdog, said that taxing marijuana use is one of a number of suggestions he expects to make about how the state can close the gap.

Pennsylvania is one of 17 states with pending legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are eight states including Massachusetts and California that currently allow small amounts of marijuana for adult-recreational use.

Would your state consider improving fiscal health by legalizing marijuana?