The biggest issue in Kentucky right now is the pension crisis. Currently, the state is anywhere from $39 billion to $64 billion deep in pension debt for state workers.
What makes matters worse is that there is currently no feasible solution on the table. Well, here’s one – why not legalize marijuana?
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes has been calling for the legalization of medical marijuana for the past few months. However, why stop at medical marijuana?
Legalizing recreational marijuana would produce much needed revenue for the state if a tax were implemented on it, similar to what states like Colorado and Oregon have done.
Christopher Bollinger, a professor of economics and the Director for Business and Economic Research here at UK, said that if marijuana were to be nationally legalized, states as a whole would make $22 billion, with Kentucky making around $500 million to $700 million, according to a few online sources.
With Kentucky’s General Fund (our yearly operating budget) being around $11 billion, this 1-2 percent increase in revenue would mean a whole deal.
But we cannot wait for marijuana to be nationally legalized, especially with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ unreasonably strict stance on it.
Research is limited, but it is estimated that if Kentucky alone were to legalize recreational marijuana usage, it could make $80-$200 million, not to mention Kentucky could also grow hemp, which is well-suited for Kentucky’s climate.
A bill was introduced in the Kentucky state legislature last year to legalize marijuana. However, Governor Matt Bevin is opposed to any such legalization, even if it is to raise money for the pension crisis.
More research is needed to fully ascertain the effects of marijuana legalization, but to simply brush it off is not an option.