Marijuana legalization benefitting community

With the legalization of recreational cannabis use in 2014, it has been a long wait to see businesses finally up and running. It is unfortunate that members of our community cannot see the benefits legalization is already bringing, like state tax revenue, state licensing fees and hundreds (eventually thousands) of new jobs. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, with only two operating retail stores, we already see thousands of dollars monthly in sales tax which goes directly to the KPB school system. Annually this number will exceed $220,000. That’s almost a quarter of a million dollars a year that will fund our schools, pay teachers, and support school programs. Can we really afford to lose this benefit to our community? 46 new jobs have already been created and filled, with the expectation of 30 more this year.

Legal sales are also having an effect on illegal black market sales. Keep in mind, legally licensed marijuana facilities aren’t the ones selling to kids, it’s the other guys. There has been talk of black market struggling in some cases to sell their product here on the peninsula; this can only be due to the retail stores that have taken hold. You know, the ones that are generating over $200,000 for our schools. It is true that black market won’t be completely wiped out, but it is also true that we will see less and less of them.

So far things seem pretty quiet. There has not been any news of an increase of teen use, an increase of marijuana related driving citations, or zombies walking the streets. What has changed since legalization? Well, there are 17 new businesses on the peninsula, 46 new jobs, sales tax revenue for our community, excise tax revenue for our state, and nobody under 21 can purchase marijuana. (Unless they go to the other guys — non-regulated, no taxes, no revenue)

From a commonsense perspective, and with consideration to our states financial woes, it is very clear that this new industry and the members of our community who are part of this industry should receive support. It is time to learn about cannabis and the fallacies that have surrounded it for decades. There is a tremendous amount of clinical research, both scientific and medical, that indicates the stigma around marijuana is undeserved. It is not a gateway drug, it is non-addictive, non-toxic, and there is no consumable amount that causes death. There has never been a marijuana overdose as it is physically impossible. Our community deserves to see the benefits of this new industry. Let’s make the responsible decision and give things a chance.

“Nothing so needs reforming, as other peoples’ habits. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky. It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.” — Mark Twain

Dollynda Phelps

Kenai

 

Link from Clarion: http://peninsulaclarion.com/letters/2017-03-09/letters-editor