When I see headlines blaring blatant inaccuracies and flat-out falsehoods about the “success” of marijuana legalization in Colorado … it frustrates me that the watching world buys into the lie. Too harsh? Well … judge for yourself.
Here is a gem from two weeks ago that claims Colorado is making “so much money” the state has to give some back:
The content of this piece is utterly replete with false assumptions and made-up “facts”. Yes, there is a slight correction at the end but it comes nowhere near rescuing the writer from a foray into over-glorifying the world of weed.
The very first sentence states that “Colorado voters knew that passing Amendment 64 would raise tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue”. Truth: Colorado voters were promised $120 million dollars in tax revenue ANNUALLY with the first $40 million ear-marked for public school building funds EACH YEAR. Not just one time, but (again) ANNUALLY.
It seems these promises have long been forgotten as history is re-written by marijuana enthusiasts and uninformed media.
Another inaccuracy here is that the state of Colorado “under-estimated” the revenue we would receive. Seriously? Go back to the above: we were promised $120 million and have fallen DRASTICALLY short of that amount. Our projections were lowered repeatedly in 2014 by the state’s economist. Finally landing in the range of hoping for $30 million in tax revenue …. this does not even begin to cover the costs of regulation, much less fulfill the $40 million for schools, and yes … then there is TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights).
TRUTH: The writers of Amendment 64 knew that the taxation scheme presented was not TABOR-compliant from the beginning and chose to ignore it. Just another loophole for which we now must find a solution. These facts can be easily discovered by reviewing the Governor’s Task force recordings from 2013 which are on file with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). A bit of journalistic integrity would suggest fact-checking these issues.
Oh and … those “millions” going back to the Taxpayers? Yes, I will get approximately $7.50 in credit on my utility bill that will suffice as my “millions.” Thank you, Big Marijuana. You can’t even buy me a decent dinner.
About the only thing in this article that is close to accurate is the thriving black market. People can grow their own, so why should they pay sales tax? They are also circumventing the tax structure by purchasing marijuana from dispensaries rather than retail stores (among other work-arounds for avoiding the tax). Taxes, which the supporters of marijuana claimed they were “happy to pay!” just a year ago when this was all new and shiny.
Finally, I really must address this delusional statement that “Colorado is estimated to have saved between $12 million and $40 million by freeing up law enforcement to focus on criminal activity unrelated to marijuana.” This statement is patently false. Where is the proof?
According to the Denver Police Department, crime is up. And according to the Colorado State Patrol, traffic fatalities involving marijuana have increased by 100%. Law enforcement is losing money on road-side sobriety calls. Hash oil explosions are up significantly as well. For the TRUTH on these REAL marijuana outcomes, check out the comprehensive report by Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA).
It saddens me that irresponsible reporting takes front and center stage with gleeful headlines that do not portray the truth of how Colorado is left coping with the difficult realities and complex problems associated with commercialized marijuana.
Truth isn’t particularly popular these days as we seem to prefer tabloid-style sensationalism, but just a bit of research into the facts reveals that legal pot isn’t all that’s been promised and time won’t heal this wound to our public health and safety. In the meantime, keep searching for the REAL stories in spite of the absurd and learn lessons from Colorado’s folly.