With the possible legalization of pot for adults at the federal level for the first time since it was criminalized a century ago, our nation stands at the brink of change. Through a legalized and federally ran pot industry, the federal government could redistribute marijuana tax dollars to fund a healthcare program for all.
Many republican politicians who are pushing to legalize marijuana want to do so in such a manner that only those who already possess the capital or credit to start their own cannabis businesses would likely benefit financially. In doing so, this leaves little tax dollars for a nationalized healthcare program.
Weed is now fully legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. It’s also medically legal in dozens of other states and completely illegal in about a dozen more.
In February, Rob Wyden, Sen. (D), and Earl Blumenauer, Rep. (D), introduced H.R. 420, “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act” and S. 420, “Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act,” which would legalize, tax, and regulate the substance at the federal level. Let’s just call it “Bill 420.”
If Bill 420 passes, it would mandate that small cannabis businesses would enjoy the same tax deductions as other companies in other industries. It would remove both past and impending federal criminal penalties as well as the possibility of asset seizure as long as the businesses comply with applicable state laws. Additionally, access to research, advertising, and banking would be allowed––once again––in accordance with applicable state laws. While the law is a good start, I believe it is missing a key component. What could possibly be wrong with Wyden and Blumenauer’s proposal? Well, let me tell you. Bill 420 isn’t making the most of the situation.
The business of America is business, after all. We have the opportunity to produce an entirely new revenue stream for healthcare, one that essentially uses the taxes from a potential $100 billion pot industry to pay for healthcare. Opponents of such programs argue that there isn’t enough money to finance things like a healthcare program, and maybe they’re right. I just don’t think they are looking in the right places. By nationalizing the pot industry, we can use that money to fund a healthcare program for everyone.
Right now, with 10 states fully legal and many more partially legal, the pot industry already earns a staggering $10 billion per year. Currently, much of that money goes to private owners, just as it did in the former “black market” manner prior to legalization. If all states were fully legal, some estimate the revenue could generate up to $100 billion per year.
My new plan could easily fund a healthcare program. Instead of pot dealers and private individuals getting rich off of our nation’s vastly expanding marijuana market. Moving the stores and opening it up to the state to operate. This would ensure that common people would have access to regular daytime jobs and healthcare from these jobs. Doing so, we could have a better healthcare industry under the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.
Between the DEA and the FDA, the taxes used from federal sales should be able to fund programs that can help everyone while also stimulating a new market that a lot of states have yet to even fully tap into. If individual states decide against federal funds of the new legal pot program, they are inherently deciding against any federal help as well.
George Freeman, Chaplain
Universal Life Church