Sany of our legislators think that taxing marijuana will create a new revenue source for Vermont. Unfortunately, they are only half right. Commercializing and taxing marijuana will indeed raise some money, but that simple statement ignores the majority of the costs to the state. When you subtract the cost, half of the equation, Vermont ends up with a glaring deficit.
This is the fatal problem with any taxed retail system where the products being taxed are addictive, impair driving coordination, and can cause known physical and mental harm. We are already experiencing this with our current taxed, commercialized addictive products, tobacco and alcohol.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says total revenue from tobacco taxes and fees in 2010 was $17 billion. Standing alone like that, it’s a huge sum. But NIDA also says tobacco cost our country $300 billion that same year in costs such as lost work productivity, and health care, and let’s not forget administration and prevention education. For every dollar we gained, we spent $17.
But imagine what we would have spent if we hadn’t had the huge tobacco lawsuit and settlement to help fund prevention education that reduced tobacco use rates. To be clear, our decrease in tobacco use happened, to a great