Cities Go Rogue, Legalize Pot On Their Own

Written by Jason Simpkins
Posted September 29, 2017

Marijuana legalization is inevitable at this point.

Two-thirds of the country supports legalization.

Twelve states have decriminalized cannabis and cleared it for medical purposes.

Eight states (Washington, Colorado, California, Nevada, Alaska, Oregon, Maine, and Massachusetts) plus the District of Columbia have legalized it.

And at least five more (Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, Illinois, and New Jersey) could have legislation on the table as soon as next year.

Why then are some states (not to mention the federal government) still fighting it?

That’s a question a growing number of Americans, cities, states, and municipalities are tired of asking. So tired, in fact, they’re taking matters into their own hands.

In Wisconsin, State Rep. Melissa Sargent has on three separate occasions attempted to introduce marijuana bills to the legislature. But each time, the state's Republican legislature has refused to give them hearings. Of course, even if they did get hearings, and miraculously pass, the state’s Republican governor, Scott Walker, would almost certainly veto them.

So, out of sheer frustration, Madison, the state capital represented by Sargent, has gone rogue. The city has removed all municipal fines for the private possession and consumption of marijuana. And adults 21 years and over can no longer be fined for possessing marijuana in public or in private spaces.

Now, the only thing you can’t do in Madison is smoke the drug in public. Monona, a small city that is completely ensconced by Madison, has signed on as well. And Stevens Point, a college town of about 27,000 people in the middle of the state, plans to follow suit.

Stevens Point city council member Mary McComb says people who consume cannabis should be treated the same way as people who consume alcohol.

“In my mind, it’s like punishing people for having a gin and tonic,” she says. “We’re in a different world now. Let’s get with the program.”

Indeed.

Also backing the program is local activist Ben Kollock — a leukemia survivor who was told by doctors that cannabis would help, but that he was on his own if he wanted any.

The police chief is on board, too. Chief Michael Koval doesn’t see the point in saddling someone with a criminal record that will hurt their job, education, and housing prospects just for smoking some weed. And that’s not all.

Every marijuana arrest costs time and money — resources that could otherwise be spent tracking down far more dangerous criminals. Man-hours, court costs, paperwork, detention… all of these things cost money and it’s the taxpayer who foots the bill.

Prior to legalization, Colorado was spending $145 million a year to combat marijuana in a totally fruitless endeavor. Add that to the $200 million in tax revenue the state raked in from marijuana sales last year, and that’s a $345 million swing for a state that’s still facing a $260 million budget deficit in 2017.

At least for now anyway. It won’t be long before that deficit goes up in a cloud of smoke. Colorado scored $1 billion in marijuana sales last year. And that’s expected to rise to $20 billion by 2021. If that projection is accurate, those added sales will translate into some $4 billion in added tax revenue — enough to obliterate the deficit 15 times over.

So you see, this isn’t just a criminal justice issue, but a financial one.

And that’s why cities like Madison are working around the state, and why states like Colorado are working around the federal government.

There’s no stopping this grassroots movement.

Vermont, Rhode Island, Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, or any number of cities could be next.

And if you want to get out ahead and find the most profitable marijuana investments check out our latest report on the Marijuana Money Map. It’ll show you exactly where the next pot profits will bubble up.

Get paid,

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Jason Simpkins

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Jason Simpkins is a seven-year veteran of the financial publishing industry, where he's served as a reporter, analyst, investment strategist and prognosticator. He's written more than 1,000 articles pertaining to personal finance and macroeconomics. Simpkins also served as the chief investment analyst for a trading service that focused exclusively on high-flying energy stocks. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page. 

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