Arguments for legalizing marijuana in West Virginia boil down to two factors: cash and compassion. Neither holds up under prudent scrutiny.
As state legislators and Gov. Jim Justice struggle to balance the state budget, the claim legalized marijuana would result in an infusion of cash in the form of taxes and fees may sound appealing to them. They should look at states where marijuana for recreational use has been decriminalized.
In Colorado, it has been reported the state’s take from the marijuana industry was about $156 million last year.
But Colorado has about three times as many residents as West Virginia. Even taking into consideration residents from other states coming here to buy their cannabis, it is likely the state’s profit would be around $50 million a year. Subtract from that the cost of regulating the industry and dealing with the fallout from it, and suddenly, marijuana as a state government cash crop makes little sense.
More than a few legislators have said the state should legalize marijuana for medicinal use. Sometimes, they sum up their reasoning with a single word: compassion.
There is evidence marijuana can be of substantial help to those suffering from some illnesses.
But just a few years ago, many doctors in our state overprescribed opioid pain pills out of compassion for their patients. We know how that worked out.
At some point, medicinal marijuana should be considered — but not before troubling questions about it have been answered satisfactorily.