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According to a DemocracyNow.org headline, voters in the midterms rejected the war on drugs in the U.S. by legalizing marijuana in three more states. Oregon and Alaska joined Colorado and Washington to make marijuana available for adults to buy in retail shops. In the District of Columbia, voters approved an initiative that makes it legal for adults to possess two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes.

 

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Alaska


In The Daily Chronicle, a recap article (Recap) announced that Alaska voters approved of Measure 2 by a 52 percent majority.


As we recently reported, Measure 2 taxes and regulates the production, sale, and use of marijuana. It also requires every marijuana cultivation facility to pay a $50 per ounce excise tax on marijuana sold or transferred to a retail marijuana store or marijuana product manufacturing facility.


In addition, marijuana businesses are now subject to corporate income tax and licensing fees. Though the state has not issued a revenue estimate, the Marijuana Policy Group prepared a report that calculates sales generating approximately $7 million in additional revenue during the first year, rising to more than $23 million by 2020.


The Alaska Dispatch News provided a breakdown of the implementation costs, predicted to be between $3.7 million and $7 million, as follows:

  • Department of Revenue:
    First year: $650,000-$800,000
    Second year: $300,000

 

Costs pertain to three new tax-related jobs (auditor, technician, and investigator) and a one-time expense for system configuration of the new excise tax.

 

  • Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development:
    First year: $1.6 million
    Second year: $1.4 million

 

Costs pertain to the creation of a task force (like the one in Colorado), several new jobs, equipment, office supplies and contract expenses for various studies.

 

  • Department of Health and Social Services:
    First year: Up to $3 million
    Second year: not provided

 

Costs pertain to treatment services, prevention, education and early intervention programs.

 

  • Department of Public Safety:
    First year: $1.4 million
    Second year $1.2 million

 

Costs pertain to the addition of three new drug enforcement unit trooper investigators, as well as other activities related to toxicology screening, media campaigns addressing the dangers of driving under the influence, and the like.

 

  • Department of Environmental Conservation:
    First year: Up to $136,900
    Second year: not provided

 

Costs pertain to the addition of a new position, an environmental health officer.

 

  • Office of the Lieutenant Governor:
    First year: $9,000
    Second year: not provided

 

Costs pertain to travel to public hearings.

 

  • Division of Elections:
    First year: $71,257
    Second year: not provided

 

Costs pertain to personnel and printing, and have already been incurred in association with the certification of the initiative.


Oregon


The Recap declared that voters approved of Oregon’s Measure 91 by 54 percent. Measure 91, which takes effect July 2015, legalizes the possession, manufacture, and sale of marijuana by and to adults, subject to state licensing, regulation, and taxation. It also imposes excise taxes as follows:

  • $35 per ounce on all marijuana flowers;
  • $10 per ounce on all marijuana leaves;
  • $5 per immature marijuana plant.


The Recap also revealed that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will have regulatory authority over the state’s retail marijuana industry. The Commission will have until January 1, 2016 to craft the rules and regulations for recreational marijuana, and until January 4, 2016 to begin accepting applications for marijuana businesses. Retail stores are expected to open sometime in 2016.


District of Columbia


DrugPolicy.org confirmed that District of Columbia residents voted 70 percent in favor of Initiative 71, the measure that legalizes the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Initiative 71 also allows individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes.


Observing that Washington, D.C. laws prevented the language of Initiative 71 from addressing the taxation and sale of marijuana, theDrugPolicy.org noted that the D.C. Council is currently considering a bill that would tax, regulate, and strictly control the sale of marijuana to adults.


Further, to take effect, Initiative 71 must be transmitted to the Congress through the D.C. Council, where it will face 30 days of congressional oversight. If Congress does not take action on Initiative 71, it becomes law.

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