Pot for potholes?
It’s an increasingly tempting proposition for cash-strapped states and their governors, who see the taxation of marijuana as a good way to raise money.
Count Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee among those intrigued by the idea.
“Certainly the revenue is enticing for all governors,” Chafee, an independent, told the Huffington Post on Monday, after attending a weekend meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C.
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Chafee could become the first governor to legalize marijuana by passing a bill approved by state lawmakers. In Colorado and Washington state, voters approved legalization in 2012. So far, no state legislatures have acted, but Rhode Island lawmakers are now contemplating the possibility.
Chafee would not commit to signing a bill but said the possibility of raising revenue for such things as education and infrastructure projects is tempting.
“Somebody was saying to me about the bad weather we’ve been having back home and all the potholes, we should have the revenue go to infrastructure ---- pot for potholes,” Chafee told the Huffington Post in an interview.
But Chafee said he wants to see how legalization works in Colorado before making a decision.
Colorado opened its retail pot shops in January, with brisk sales reported so far.
Last week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said pot sales have the potential of adding more than $100 million a year to state coffers.
Washington state is gearing up to start its pot sales this spring. Budget forecasters in the Evergreen State last week predicted that marijuana revenue could bring in $190 million in taxes over a four-year period, beginning next year.
With states tight for cash, many pot lobbyists say it’s only natural that more governors will look to marijuana as a possible revenue source.
“Colorado is taking in more tax money on legal marijuana sales than anyone predicted, and it's no surprise that leaders elsewhere in the country are enticed by the potential windfall for their own states,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a pro-legalization group.”