Marijuana Legalization: How Buying Pot Could Save Denver's Schools

Before legalization, getting high in Colorado meant getting a rather unpleasant visit from the police. Now, it means something only slightly less unpleasant — paying taxes

That's right, the state of Colorado is looking to make bank every time someone smokes a (legally purchased) joint. On Nov. 5, voters will decide whether to approve a 15% pot excise tax that will go towards school construction, as well as a 10% sales tax to fund marijuana enforcement. Needless to say, this has quite a few pro-pot activists up in arms. 

As Miguel Lopez, one such activist, told the Associated Press, "Our alcohol system is regulated just fine with the taxes they have, so we don't see any need for this huge grab for cash from marijuana." 


Unfortunately for Lopez, a slew of polls suggest the tax is almost certain to pass. And besides, Lopez and his fellow pot activists are being hypocritical. 

After all, one of the best arguments for legalized weed — one made a year ago by the same pro-weed activists who are complaining about it now — is all the potential money to be made from taxing marijuana. That these taxes will be used for school construction seems to me to only raise the appeal of this argument, which was made by pro-pot activists. Now, whenever you light up a joint, you're sending money to schools. Schools! What's not to like? 

So, just how much money could a pot tax bring into Colorado? Well, Colorado fiscal analysts predict the taxes could bring in an extra $70 million a year. That's right: $70 million. So next time you smoke a joint, remember: You're doing it for the children. 

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Michael Shammas

Second-year Harvard Law student, politico, Breaking Bad fan, cynical idealist, coffee addict, & Duke sports fanatic. Contact me at mshammas@jd16.law.harvard.edu.

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