Recreational marijuana revenue not expected to be a cure-all

Local News

For decades Michiganders have been able to walk into a store, flash their ID, and walk away with cigarettes or alcohol.

“We always encourage lawmakers and policymakers to think about marijuana businesses no different than they would a bar or a convenience store,” Josh Hovey, Communications Director for the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association said.

Hovey believes the legalization of recreational marijuana is a huge plus for the state.

“Michigan was spending an inordinate amount of time focusing on petty marijuana arrests. We’re going to save thousands and thousands of dollars a year on law enforcement and redirect those issues and those resources towards more important issues,” Hovey said.

But one of the biggest questions is just how much the state will make.

“We know how much money states like Colorado and Washington have generated. We know Michigan has about double the population of Colorado and is the largest medical marijuana market in the country, so we can count on Michigan having a pretty robust market,” Hovey said.

The Michigan Department of Treasury expects the state will rake in $143-million within the first full year after implementation, but Hovey says that revenue isn’t a cure-all.

“Legalization was never sold as a solution to Michigan’s road funding or school funding issues or anything like that. It’s going to be a drop in the bucket, but any little bit helps,” Hovey said.

A new study from Pew Research Center says states like Nevada and California generated revenue much different than they predicted, but Hovey says it just depends on how quickly the state gets the ball rolling.

“Nevada was very efficient with it’s licensing. California has had a whole lot of hurdles,” Hovey said.

And until the program is actually rolled out, Michigan won’t know for sure.

“After a year or two we’ll probably have numbers that we can use to do some more accurate budgeting, but we’re doing a guessing game based on a lot of assumptions right now,” Hovey said.

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