What should Oregon fund by exploiting people’s addictions?

Dan Lucas_July 2012_BW

by Dan Lucas

Oregon has now passed Ballot Measure 91, legalizing the use of marijuana. Oregonians voted 56% to 44% to allow the “possession, manufacture and sale of marijuana by/to adults, subject to state licensing, regulation, and taxation.” Projected marijuana tax revenues are between $17 million and $40 million annually.

After covering around $3 million per year in OLCC operating expenses, the marijuana taxes collected will be distributed as follows: “40% to the Common School Fund, 20% to the Mental Health Alcoholism and Drug Services Account, 15% to the State Police Account, 10% to cities for law enforcement, 10% to counties for law enforcement, and 5% to the Oregon Health Authority for alcohol and drug abuse prevention, early intervention and treatment services.”

Most of those distributions make sense — they are to deal with the ramifications of legalizing marijuana. The one distribution that doesn’t make sense, however, is allocating 40% to the Common School Fund. That’s a projected $11 million to $30 million per biennium for K-12 public schools from the new marijuana taxes — a drop in the bucket in the state’s $6.5 billion contribution to K-12 funding. This was clearly a sweetener to help the measure pass, but is it ethical?

The American Lung Association in Colorado, where marijuana was recently legalized, reports that nationally “9% of those who try marijuana will become addicted” and that about “2.7 million people in the U.S. meet clinical criteria for marijuana dependence.”

A February 2014 White House report shows the number of chronic marijuana users in the U.S. has grown 66% in ten years — from 10.6 million in 2000 to 17.6 million in 2010.

According to another White House report, Oregon ranks first among all states for drug use in a number of categories. That same report shows that marijuana leads the state in the number of drug abuse treatment admissions.

Taxes collected from marijuana should be used primarily to help those struggling with marijuana dependence or addiction. It’s also reasonable to use those taxes to provide for any additional law enforcement needed to properly regulate a now-legalized marijuana. What’s far more questionable, though, is whether it’s OK to use “blood money” from people struggling with marijuana dependence or addiction to fund Oregon schools.

This quandary already exists with other Oregon revenues, including the Oregon Lottery and liquor revenues.

A 2010 article by The Oregonian reported that “Half of lottery profits from video games come from about 10 percent of its players, who lose $500 or more every month,” and video lottery makes up almost 90 percent of lottery earnings. That means that much of the $830 million of Lottery Funds in the state budget is coming on the backs of people struggling with gambling addictions.

The state general fund also gets around $200 million from liquor sales each biennium. Nationally, 15 percent of alcohol users become addicted.

These are very questionable ways for us to be contributing to our children’s education, and they should leave all Oregonians feeling a bit uneasy.

To read more from Dan, visit www.dan-lucas.com

  • Moe

    Here is my plan. Get some weed and really toke the heck out of it. Then stop by the liquor store and get some Stoli. Then head over to the Quickie Mart and get some lottery tickets and some smokes. Once I win the lottery I will have plenty of $ to continue to buy this stuff and help support the state government at the same time.
    Win Win if you ask me!!!!

    • guest

      Don’t forget to run into the store and buy whatever is on sale to satisfy your shopping addiction.

      • guest listening

        “Nothing is quite so annoying as to have someone go right on talking when you’re interrupting.”

  • Ardbeg

    Somehow conservatives have no problem with cigarettes, cigars, alcohol and gambling. Yet the world will end with legal weed. Go figure!

    • guest

      Scotch it to you, Kemo soberly.

    • CherryAnn1000

      As a conservative, I DO have a problem with all the vices you listed. They are no more and no less a problem than potheads.

      • Eric Blair

        Probably more… much, much more. And I think Ardbeg was talking about most conservatives…

        • guest


    • Granola girl

      Maybe conservatives know that we don’t need one more addictive substance, we have enough already.

      • Ardbeg

        Are you ok with “we already have enough”? Not that I don’t enjoy the occasional (as my monicker would suggest) three fingers. I’m fine with getting rid of all the above. Why our society allows the legal consumption of poison (which alcohol and tobacco are) is a mystery to me and a testament to the power of the money can influence our laws

        • Our society allows the legal consumption of “poisons” like alcohol and tobacco because in a free society to do otherwise creates worse problems than the “poison” itself.

          The war on drugs is really a war on individuals who choose to use substances that may be harmful to them. Making them outlaws just makes the situation worse, and increases the risk that innocent bystanders will be caught in the crossfire.

          • Ardbeg

            WHAT! That makes no sense at all. So in a “free society ” we should have meth, coke and heroin because to outlaw them creates worse problems?

          • We already have meth, coke and heroin being bought and sold on the black market where disputes are settled with violence. You may not see the sense in changing this, but others do.

      • Eric Blair

        The addictive substance is already out there, and is not anything new.

        The question is, how do we deal with it. If you can show me that the old pot laws were serving a greater public good, AND that was the best way to handle that public good then you have an argument. Otherwise, your comment doesn’t make any sense at all.

        Is it better to handle pot addiction as a legal issue or as a public health issue?

        • aSam Adams novel

          EB,. You ‘blair’ more ImPOTency than a host of guffaw’s raucous-raised atta boy bunch taking a lunch break at some Dem Me dames’ Lafarge bordello.
          IMO, you ‘peer a loopy attune, butt what the fork, He who laughs, lasts and your gaffes at least entertain the swine at an Orwellian animal farm.

  • joe tokes

    we are not exploiting addicts that is wrong. regulating and taxing what is already been exploited by a black market is not moraly wrong.

  • joe tokes

    Get over it, the voters shot this crap right between the lies.

  • wfecht

    It is good MJ is legal. IMO the taxes are the corruption. does anyone think for a microsecond that with the increase in state revenues (confiscation) that the rest of the taxes will be decreased? Not in this lifetime. Ardberg you are flat out wrong about the GOP and sin taxes. the Dems in this state have increased the Sin taxes over the last two decades. But this fits well with the liberal/progressive agenda of more “free” money. and law enforcement is not a good place to put it either. there is no morality in distributing from the government to the public. it is immoral for licensed (public sanctioned) theft (taxes).

  • CherryAnn1000

    Schools–trying to get your money any way they can.

  • My2Bits

    Develop jobs in southern Oregon. Or how about replacing lost lumber jobs with jobs working mega-marijuana farms? New power center to counter Portland!

  • zanzara2041

    Government is a corporate succubi/incubi that feeds off of or fornicates with its tax base at will. It only cares for its personal survival or that of its corporate controllers. Honesty, decency, integrity, truth, legality, justice, freedom are melodramatic, maudlin nuisances to government. Government is a horseman of the apocalypse.

  • David Clark

    Dan: about “2.7 million people in the U.S. meet clinical criteria for marijuana dependence.”
    ME–That can’t be – it’s illegal in most of the country!

    Could it be that legalization will make no difference in people’s behavior or MJ consumption? It will only quit making criminals out of users.
    Like raising the 65MPH speed limit to 80 would make little difference in actual speed, only there would be less law breakers, subject to predatory law enforcement.

    • Myke

      Oh, stop with that common sense! The NSA is listening.

  • Robert Collins

    Geez Lucas, how long are you going to keep beating this horse? You and Huss should travel back in time and do “Reefer Madness” public service announcements.

    • Donkey Hokey

      D’oh RC sap sarilla, your Ridgmont high is so wasted in the windmilling you cede to grind.

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