The push to legalize recreational marijuana in Florida is alive and well.
A petition to put legal weed on the ballot in 2020 has triggered a Supreme Court review, a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows 65 percent of Florida voters support fully legalizing the drug and bill proposals are pitching legalization as a potential boon for Florida’s tourism economy, a step toward criminal justice reform and a way to boost local businesses in periphery markets.
One of the key selling points? Taxes.
“Other states are showing a windfall to both local and state governments depending on how the tax structure is set up,” said Michael Minardi, a Tampa attorney spearheading a ballot proposal to legalize recreational marijuana. “The economic revenue is huge.”
But as the chatter continues to grow around legalization, a recent report shows the state should tread lightly.
According to a new study by Pew Charitable Trust, there’s too much uncertainty and too little data for states to rely on recreational marijuana “sin” taxes for permanent fixes to budget shortfalls. The research found that states see high revenue growth in early years of legalization, but there is evidence that the growth slows as markets mature.
“It raises an important and larger point,” researcher Alexandria Zhang told reporters on a call Tuesday, “As states seek new revenue sources, lawmakers should consider how volatile the new revenue source is.”
Given how unpredictable recreational marijuana can be, states should instead treat it like any other nonrecurring source of dollars in order to reduce a budget imbalance, Zhang said. There are ways to ward off negative effects, however, like collecting money before spending it or using the revenue to shore up savings. Nevada, for example contributes proceeds from its retail tax toward a rainy day fund. Washington uses the revenue for some