Colorado has received a a lot of media attention after legalizing the personal recreational use of marijuana.
Other states, including Washington and Oregon, have followed by allowing adults to possess small quantities of the drug legally. Still, while nearly half the states in the union have made some form of marijuana use legal, there has not been a full-on rush to legalize recreational uses.
A recent Ohio ballot measure to legalize the drug failed to pass, but the next state to make marijuana legal might be making a push soon.
Fool contributor Todd Campbell joined healthcare analyst Kristine Harjes to discuss this hot topic and to argue why California might be the next big player to legalize marijuana.
Listen to the full podcast by clicking here. A transcript follows the video.
Kristine Harjes: Another state that's been in the marijuana spotlight is Colorado. They had another vote yesterday that was proposition BB, and it passed by a landslide.
Todd Campbell: Yeah. Colorado is a very unique situation. It's what everyone else is holding up to and looking at, saying "Can you legalize recreational marijuana and be able to tax it and have it be an effective system?" Can you regulate it, tax it, and have it work? I would argue that so far, so good; at least in the state of Colorado. You've got a state that, last year, generated a significant amount of tax revenue, about 70% more than it did the year before.
It's on pace to grow that tax revenue even more as we move into the new fiscal year, which began in July. That money is being used and handed back to school systems, etcetera. I think Colorado will continue to be looked at and watched, and a lot of people will probably be focusing back on that as they try and convince voters in states like Massachusetts and California, and Arizona to pass legal marijuana in 2016.
Harjes: There are certainly more question marks around the Colorado situation, which is why so many people are watching it. This whole "Proposition BB Vote" was really not a surprise at all. The question that was posed to the voters was "Should we take the tax revenue that we've collected from marijuana this past year and put it to school programs and drug education, or should it go back as a tax refund, go to growers and users?"
This really isn't surprising at all that the vote went for the school programs because Colorado's citizens already voted on an almost identical measure in 2013. The only reason they had to do this revote to begin with was because Colorado brought in more overall revenue than initially projected for the year, which triggered this weird rule that basically said "You need to revote now that there's now more money at play."
Campbell: Right. The projections were off, and as a result -- in order to keep up with the meaning of the law when it was originally passed -- it just made sense to go ahead and give it the O.K.
Harjes: Todd, before we close off the subject of marijuana are there any other states we should keep an eye on in the 2016 elections?
Campbell: California's the biggest. As goes California, the nation will probably end up following over time. California; continue to watch that very closely. [I'm] also watching Massachusetts very closely too because Gallup has done a bunch of studies evaluating how people feel about the marijuana subject, whether or not they will vote for it.
What they've found is that typically speaking, people who are younger tend to vote in favor of reforming the laws of marijuana. Also, states that might have more bias toward Democrats rather than Republicans tend to vote in favor of marijuana legislation as well. Obviously, California and Massachusetts will be two areas that are highly populated and could have the best chances of getting marijuana laws passed next year.
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