Often referred to as the cannabis crusader by his colleagues for putting all of his efforts into the legalization of marijuana, After three years of trying to introduce the legislation to the state, but with little to no luck his arguments never made it out of the committee hearing rooms.
In a series of turning events, Miller’s colleagues have recently began to indicate interest in the outcomes of legalizing recreational marijuana and most importantly all of the tax revenue that can be made out of it.
“We now have the wind at our backs,” Said Miller confidently as he introduced his latest marijuana bill last week. “Seeing our next door neighbor legalize it should help us a lot”
When Looking back at the ballots that took place in the fall, Massachusetts was one of four states to legally pass the recreational pot ballot measures along with: Maine, California and Nevada. Not to mention the four other states(Alaska ,Colorado, Oregon &Washington) who have legalized recreational marijuana through ballot initiatives in the past.
During the past year, lawmakers of 17 different states have become independent enough to introduce over two dozen measures to legalize recreational pot for adults and allow for the taxation of its sale by the government. The Benefits incurred by Colorado and Washington state(the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana) have been the pioneers of this nation-wide trend.
A recent report from Colorado officials shows that the state managed to bring a whopping amount of $200 million dollars of tax revenue to the state of Colorado in the past year. Remarkably, even Washington managed to rake in 256 million dollars, most of which is being allocated to the funding of public school systems.
Mary Washington, A state delegate from Maryland who recently introduced a bill that taxed marijuana like alcohol claimed that her focus was to bring in revenue and cash to the state as legalization becomes more and more widespread. Based on her calculations she estimated that the state would be able to net around $165 million dollars a year. Without even mentioning, California’s estimation of tax revenues bring in around 1 billion dollars a year, there is no doubt that the legalization of marijuana will be a very lucrative investment.
Washington, whose district is in Baltimore, has not yet sponsored pot legislation in their own district but has been a huge supporter for nation-wide legalization. Her outlook on the issue was grounded upon her disdain on low-level possession arrests that would continue to happen to African Americans in her community.
The optimism of her efforts was also inspired by the success of Maryland lawmakers legalization of medical marijuana in 2014. With individuals being able to hold up to an ounce of marijuana legally in some states, tied with the cash generated from sales revenue, Washington felt like it was time to join the legalization movement.
Much like the legalization of medical marijuana, Six states passed ballot measures to approve the use of medicinal pot between the mid 1990’s and 2000. It wasn’t until later in the year that Hawaii became the first to accomplish this through the legislature. Since then, nearly double the states have adopted medicinal marijuana laws through legislatures, 13 compared to the seven passed through ballot initiatives.
The spokesman for the Washington, D.C- based marijuana policy project, Mason Tvert, stated that the voters were the true leaders of the battle for the legalization of medicinal marijuana. For wary makers however, Polling is helpful as a public-approval monitor for the legalization of marijuana.
A Pew Research center survey from October showed that 57% of Americans do believe that marijuana should be legal, compared to the minor 37 percent that believe it should remain illegal. Compared to 2006 where the odds were reversed and 60 percent believed it should remain illegal.
Comparably in Rhode Island, A poll released this month stated that 59 percent of Rhode islanders support the legalizations of recreational marijuana, in comparison to the 35 percent who believe it should be illegal. Due to it’s miniscule size, Lawmakers are fearing that Rhode Island will lose millions of dollars to Massachusetts, the concerns have even spread to Connecticut and new York, Two states where legalization methods are also being debated.
The Massachusetts vote and the astounding upset in the public poll were enough to convince Rhode Island State senator Ryan Pearson, a previous advocate of marijuana illegality, to change his opinion on the matter. After openly opposing miller’s past efforts for the past 3 years due to worries of marijuana edibles getting in the hands of the youth. A problem recently addressed by Colorado State Gov. John Hickenlooper, who warned other states, that it must be regulated extremely carefully.
“I saw this shift around the country with other states. It’s crept into New England and we see it legal right next door,” he said. “now it’s not a matter of if, but when, for legalization in this state. … We should take the initiative to get this done right. “
Among other concerns, Rhode Island law enforcement agencies have recently been worried about the enforceability and prosecution of patrons who are driving under the influence. While the senator agreed with Miller, Rhode Island Atty. Gen. Peter F. Kilmartin remains openly opposed, due to the fact that it’s ‘long lasting effects’ and ‘unintended consequences’ are still ‘unknown’.
“We see legalization moving into the new England area and out here it’s a very regional economy,” he said. “Why give Massachusetts all the benefit?” said Scott Slater, Miller’s house sponsor for the legal pot measure
Although the road is long and weary, Miller has still seen momentum in all of his actions in the recent years. “One member of legislative leadership would back it, then another. It was a slow trickle,” claimed miller. These ‘trickling’ actions were enough to continue to inspire and give Miller faith in his 3-year battle for the legalization of recreational marijuana.