Today, the day before the unofficial “marijuana holiday,” Healthy and Productive Illinois (HPIL) – a project of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) – released a comprehensive working paper on the projected costs of legalization in Illinois, finding that legalization would cost the state $670.5 million, far outweighing estimated tax revenue projections of approximately $566 million. The report will be released today at 9:30 am in Room N505 of the Thompson State Building in Chicago, during a press conference by HPIL to announce opposition to legalization.
This report uses data from states like Colorado that have legalized marijuana to debunk the myth that taxed marijuana sales will be a boon to the state’s well-reported fiscal crisis. A conservative approximation of quantifiable data such as administrative and regulatory enforcement, increased drugged driving fatalities and other vehicle related property damages, short term health costs, and increased workplace absenteeism and accidents would cost the state $670.5 million in 2020.
“This study clearly demonstrates that the only people who will make money from marijuana commercialization are those in the industry that grow and sell it, at the direct expense of public health and safety,” said Dr. Aaron Weiner Director of Addiction Services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health. “This industry is actively lobbying in Springfield to move their agenda forward, misleading our leaders and the general public. We have to speak up about the truth to protect the health of our State,” continued Dr. Weiner.
Healthy and Productive Illinois is a coalition formed to spread science-based awareness on marijuana harms and push back against the movement to legalize marijuana. The group believes the marijuana industry is mimicking the tactics of the Big Tobacco industry.
“We know that when citizens of Illinois are informed that marijuana is already decriminalized, only 23% want to fully legalize it,” said Andy Duran, Executive Director of Linking Efforts Against Drugs (LEAD). “Lack of knowledge and confusion is the fuel that drives the commercial marijuana market forward, just like tobacco before it. Imagine what would happen if everyone was aware that the State will lose money, too,” continued Duran.
There is sufficient information available to suggest that marijuana legalization could incur additional costly side effects, but at this time data is not robust enough to quantify their long-term impact. One of these additional costs would be controlling an expanded black market.
“In Oregon and Colorado, we are seeing thriving black markets and illegal grow operations hiding amongst legal growers,” said Chief James Black, Vice President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. “This expanded black market creates a real problem for law enforcement who now have to work even harder and allocate more precious resources to weed out illegal grow ops,” continued Chief Black.
Additional costs include:
* Additional workplace injuries among part-time employees
* Increases in alcohol use and abuse
* Increases in tobacco use
* More opioid abuse
* Increases in short-term/long-term recovery for marijuana use disorders
* Greater marijuana use among underage students
* Property and other economic damage from marijuana extraction lab explosions
* Controlling an expanded black market, sales to minors, and public intoxication
* Other administrative burdens of most state legalization programs, such as:
– money for drugged driving awareness campaigns;
– drug prevention programs; and
– pesticide control and other agricultural oversight mechanisms
* Long-term health impacts of marijuana use
“Cost reports such as this are the dirty truth that the pot industry doesn’t want law makers and the general public to see,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, Founder and President of SAMA and former senior drug policy advisor to President Obama. “The pot industry is dead set on becoming the next Big Tobacco. The men in suits behind Big Pot will become rich while communities of color continue to suffer with addiction, black markets thrive, and states are left to foot the bill,” continued Dr. Sabet.