Marijuana in Montreal: Colorado representative talks legalization
Colorado state representative Jonathan Singer says tax revenue helps fund schools
Some American states have already legalized marijuana and it could soon be Canada's turn.
Cannabis sales for recreational purposes were made legal in Colorado in January 2014. In Canada, the new Liberal government is promising it within the next two years.
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For the second part of CBC Daybreak's Montreal 420 series, we spoke to Jonathan Singer, who represents House District 11 in the Colorado state legislature.
Here are key excerpts of that interview with Singer:
On how legalization works
We've decriminalized it so people who possess an ounce or less of recreational marijuana aren't going to go to jail if you're over 21.
At the same time we allow both a state and local licensure so that means in my own hometown up here in Longmont, Colorado, the city council has decided to ban marijuana sales. That's legal to ban sales. You can't ban possessions but you can ban sales.
Other large cities like Denver have decided to go the opposite route and they have decided to legalize dispensaries.
On how Colorado has changed
You know, the good news is our economy is booming. Our economy has gone from 40th in job creation to fourth in job creation over the last few years.
In addition to that, we have seen record numbers of tourists. In addition to that, we have seen crime stay about the same or even some crimes even decline in the state of Colorado. And we also have a new cash source to fund our schools, so it has certainly changed it in a lot of ways.
On who can legally sell marijuana
Colorado has always been a local control, free-market state and because of that all of these are privately owned by private individuals who go through very strict background checks to make sure that they don't have a serious criminal history.
Last but definitely not least these are people who have quite a bit of money in their pocket to be able to build these industries up because banking is still a huge issue because it is federally illegal in the United States.
On tax revenue from marijuana
In a state of about five million people we've raised about $60 million from marijuana taxes. That's a special marijuana tax that's equivalent to about 22 to 24 per cent on a sale of marijuana.
Of those $60 million dollars, about $40 million has gone directly into building better public schools in Colorado. And the remainder of those dollars have gone into things like drug and alcohol prevention programs, counselling, before and after school programs and even better training for our police officers to detect things like driving under the influence of drugs.
On challenging illegal drug trade
I think we have taken a huge bite out of the illegal drug trade in Colorado.
One of the unfortunate parts about this is because marijuana is still illegal in most of the rest of the United States, there is a huge economic pressure to take and purchase marijuana on the legal market here in Colorado and perhaps try and sell it in other states. Marijuana is considerably less expensive even on the taxed legal market in Colorado.