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Voter Support for Marijuana Reform Forces Republicans To ‘Reconcile’ Their Views, Senate Chairman Says
Republican members of Congress have a marijuana dilemma, a Democratic Senate chairman said on Tuesday. As the push to legalize at the federal level continues, his GOP colleagues are having to square their personal opposition to cannabis with the reality that their constituents are voting for reform.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) reiterated to Yahoo Finance Live that ending cannabis prohibition is a priority for the Democratic-controlled Congress—as is promoting social equity in the industry. But asked what he has been hearing from Republicans across the aisle, the senator said they are trying to square individual ideologies with shifting public opinion.
Colorado Sold More Than $2 Billion In Legal Marijuana Last Year
Marijuana sales in Colorado reached $186 million in December, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) said Tuesday.
For the year 2020, marijuana sales reached $2.1 billion, marking the first time sales topped $2 billion since the state began tracking this data in 2014. The totals include sales of both recreational and medical marijuana.
Between 2019 and 2020, marijuana sales spiked by over $400 million. Colorado’s total sales to date since January 2014 exceeds $9.9 billion.
In return, state tax and fee revenue from marijuana sales hit $34 million in January, DOR said. Since January 2014, Colorado has collected more than $1.6 billion in tax revenue.
Colorado Democrat Retreating on Push to Limit THC to 15%
Colorado State Rep. Yadira Caraveo says her proposal to limit the potency of marijuana sold recreationally in Colorado was just in its beginning stages. But when draft legislation was recently leaked and prominent figures in the state’s cannabis industry created an uproar, the measure started unraveling.
Now, Caraveo, a Northglenn Democrat and pediatrician, is backing off parts of the measure and loosening the restrictions in what is left.
Caraveo’s initial proposal, which she says was always supposed to be a negotiating floor, was to limit the potency of marijuana products sold in Colorado to 15% THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gets people high.
Caraveo said she launched her effort because “the products available now are not the products Colorado legalized.” Many strains of marijuana flower that are sold in Colorado have a potency above 15%.
GOP Congressman Recognizes That Marijuana Legalization Reduces Demand for Illegal Product
A GOP congressman recently acknowledged that the state-level marijuana legalization movement is curbing illicit trafficking of cannabis from other countries as more people have access to legal, regulated markets.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) made the remarks on the House floor last week as he was defending funding for a wall along the southern border. He said the country will be “losing money” if work to expand the wall is suspended, which he said would result in “more drugs coming across the southern border.”
But not necessarily cannabis, he caveated.
West Virginia House GOP Leader Polls Colleagues on Marijuana Legalization as Revenue Booster
A West Virginia House leader recently circulated an internal poll among Republican lawmakers, inquiring about what kind of policies—including marijuana legalization—they’d be willing to support to increase revenue to the state as part of a plan to eliminate the personal income tax.
The survey listed 12 examples of potential policy changes that could be enacted to offset an estimated $2.1 billion revenue loss if the income tax is repealed. But while Majority Whip Paul Espinosa (R) put legalizing cannabis in that list, he said in a follow-up interview that it does not necessarily signal that it’s something the legislature would pursue.