Governor Dislikes Medical Marijuana, But Likes Tax Money


Photo: The Associated Press
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter: “I was not in favor of medical marijuana, but I’m also a lawyer and a governor, and I believe in the law”

‚ÄčColorado Gov. Bill Ritter doesn’t like medical marijuana, but he sure likes the tax money that comes from it. Gov. Ritter said on Monday that the state is using $9 million from medical marijuana registrations to help the state meet a $60 million “fiscal emergency.”

Ritter said the state expects to end the year with 150,000 applicants for medical marijuana licenses, up from 41,000 in 2009, reports The State Column. Colorado marijuana cards cost $90 per year.
“I was not in favor of medical marijuana, but I’m also a lawyer and the governor, and I believe in the law,” Ritter said, reports Tim Hoover at The Denver Post. “And it’s the law in this state.”

The governor said he believes it’s constitutional to use medical marijuana revenues to help balance the budget, leaving only $1 million in the fund collected from cannabis fees.
“Ritter’s not unlike most politicians in his position,” sniffed conservative pundit Shannon Bell at the overweeningly moralistic “When faced with a tough situation (like a $60 million budget gap) they’ll abandon principle every time.”
Last year, Colorado used about $3 million from the medical marijuana fund, reports Bell, who got in a righteous right-wing lather about all that dirty pot money.
“Ritter said at the time it was a one-time thing,” Bell writes. “Beware when a politician says ‘one-time thing.'”
The announcement is predictably adding fuel to the fire in the debate over whether to completely legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. A number of states are looking at the issue, with California scheduled to vote on legalization in November.
Many supporters have pointed to increased tax revenues and other fees as arguments for legalization at a time when states are considering budget cuts.
“Today’s balancing plan continues the same strategies we’ve utilized throughout the downturn,” Ritter said Monday, reports Steven K. Paulson at CBOnline. “We are preserving essential services, protecting the safety net, minimizing pain and requiring shared sacrifices and shared solutions from everyone.”