'Delaware will be left behind' | Advocates warn of lost economic advantages to not legalizing marijuana – WDEL 1150AM

Delaware’s state legislature is taking another look at legalizing marijuana this session, and an advocacy group said there are strong economic benefits to its use.

Karen O’Keefe, Director of State Policies with the Marijuana Policy Project, pointed to nine states that have legalized cannabis, and brought in revenue that adjusted for Delaware would mean at least $7.9 million into the state’s coffers.

“States are bringing in tens-to-hundreds of millions of dollars every year in cannabis taxes and fees. The regulatory costs pale in comparison to what is being brought in.”

Washington, which leads the nine states with a 37% retail plus a 6.5% sales tax on marijuana, brought in $616.1 million [$78.9 million adjusted to Delaware] in 2020.

“In Washington, the tax rate is so high, and sales have been going for so long, that they brought in more cannabis taxes than liquor and alcohol taxes total last year, even though far few people are cannabis consumers than alcohol consumers.”

O’Keefe added that Washington having raised $2.4 billion in 6.5 years and Colorado’s $1.4 billion in 7 years are having impacts to their state’s economies.

“These aren’t just numbers, these are real investments in the community’s health that have improved lives. Washington [State] used $188 million of its revenue last year from cannabis on its basic health plan trust fund, which is for health insurance for residents who are otherwise uninsured. Colorado has used much of its funding for schools, and Illinois is devoting 25% of its revenue to reinvest in communities that are hardest hit by the war on drugs.”

The other states analyzed besides Washington and Colorado are Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Illinois.

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Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness put out a study in January that said Delaware could create a $215 million industry, create

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