There have been a number of academic studies investigating two main aspects of the fiscal benefits of legal pot: the tax revenues gained, and the money saved from police, courts and corrections not having to deal with marijuana violators anymore. I’ve waded through many of these analyses.
And combining the data from the most definitive of these studies, here is my fiscal starting point: Virginia could reap more than $250 million a year in “sin tax” revenues on regulated marijuana sales, and save another $245 million in enforcement costs. That’s roughly $500 million a year. Granted, Virginia’s statewide budget is about $42 billion a year. But $500 million would build and fix a lot of roads and buy a lot of classroom computers.
Englin’s bill calls for the formation of a joint subcommittee to study the feasibility of selling marijuana through state ABC stores, the same way Virginia has monopolized liquor sales, and the “potential revenue impact upon the Commonwealth.” The subcommittee could spend no more than $15,040.