West Virginia has been facing a hardship financially, which has led to a special session taking place right now to find a new solution. They have already seen prices of their resources dropping (like coal and natural gas) and they have also administered tax cuts, which always seems like a last resort in this kind of situation. One Delegate, however, is proposing a solution that to some in the state may seem way too radical to pull off this year.
Mike Pushkin introduced House Bill 114 recently, along with the signatures of four other delegates, Shawn Flahuarty, Bill Flanigan, Mike Folk and Pat McGeehan. The proposed bill would decriminalize the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by people age 21 and older. At first look, it actually might appear to be similar to the form of legalization passed in Washington D.C.
However, taking a look at the actual bill, it explains how individuals and potential retailers would be taxed – which would generate plenty of money for the state in the long run. It outlines that individuals 21 and older will have to purchase a “tax stamp” allowing them to possess, use and cultivate marijuana – but this stamp comes with a $500 price tag.
If you don’t pay that, you could be subject to a fine on your state taxes of up to $500 for being found with two ounces or less – or up to $1,000 for more than two ounces. These penalties and taxes would be how the state plans to bring in revenue – and without having to bring in an entire industry to do it. Of course, there is an alternative that has also been mentioned – they could potentially introduce medical marijuana legislation, an industry that would also bring in the much needed tax dollars.
Honestly, if people were willing to pay a $500 fee (one time, hopefully – with a lower renewal fee instead of applying all over again for the tax stamp) then this could honestly work. If they were to go the medical marijuana route while also moving forward with the decriminalization bill, they would have double the potential – all of which could pull their state out of a financial crisis.
“We need to discuss it,” Pushkin said. “We need to put all of the options on the table.”
Whether or not the bill actually moves past the House and the Senate this session, it’s great to see that they are at least getting a dialogue rolling on the subject. After all, as pointed out by Pushkin himself, the nearby states of Ohio and Pennsylvania have both just passed medical marijuana laws – so it might be better for them to get moving on this sooner, rather than later.