A news article came to my attention this morning that Portland, ME passed a referendum, known as Question 1, to legalize pot for adult recreational use. The city already has medicinal use legalized and they have become the first east coast city to do legalize recreational use.
For several years I have argued that the decriminalization of marijuana would help our economy, and the slide show associated with this article supports that theory. For example, according to the New York Times, the city of Oakland, CA raised $1.3 million in tax revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries in 2011 alone, which is 3% of the city's total business tax revenue. During the same time frame, the state of Colorado took in $5 in sales tax revenue. That would pave a lot of streets.
While I do not smoke pot myself, partly because it is illegal and because I don't really like the effects, I understand the end result. We are not winning the war on drugs and it is senseless in my opinion to spend tax money fighting a substance which in my mind is no more dangerous that alcohol, and probably healthier for you anyway. I advocate decriminalizing marijuana and treating it just like we do several other drugs of choice; booze, cigarettes, and coffee. We are not going to stop people from needing a release from the grinds of everyday life, and while many can do without anything to take them away, using something such as pot is going to occur. We might as well realize what we can financially from it and stop fighting a war we cannot win.