Last week we wrote how the tax revenue from “medical” marijuana sales may not be enough to cover the state’s annual costs despite the fact that millions of dollars worth of marijuana has been sold in Arkansas.
The fact is, Arkansas is already millions of dollars in the hole paying for its “medical” marijuana program — and things don’t appear to be improving any time soon.
Marijuana sellers have grossed some $23.3 million off marijuana this year.
The state will get 10.5% of that money in tax revenue — about $2.4 – $2.5 million.
However, the state’s marijuana program is going to cost the Department of Finance and Administration, the Department of Health, and the Arkansas State Police some $3.7 – $4.7 million every year, according to estimates from 2016 — and they aren’t the only agencies and offices affected by the legalization of “medical” marijuana.
To make matters worse, the State of Arkansas already has spent millions of dollars establishing the Medical Marijuana Commission and funding other offices related to “medical” marijuana.
In Fiscal Year 2018 the Arkansas Legislature appropriated $5 million for the implementation of “medical” marijuana.
In Fiscal Year 2019 they appropriated another $5 million.
And this year they passed two measures appropriating approximately $11.6 million total for the program in Fiscal Year 2020.
In other words, the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment has cost the state more than $20 million already.
Some of these are one-time expenses. Others are annual costs.
All told, it seems safe to assume that “medical” marijuana will cost the state at least $5 million or more every year.
At this point, it’s unclear if the state’s tax revenue from marijuana sales will be enough to cover these annual costs, much less repay the $22 million that Arkansas has spent implementing the program.
That means regular taxpayers will have to pick up the tab for “medical” marijuana in Arkansas.
Marijuana is tied to stroke, heart problems, and hypertension as well as permanent loss in IQ and an increased risk for schizophrenia.
That’s part of the reason why the U.S. Surgeon General issued a warning about marijuana last August.
Marijuana is a dangerous drug, and it is costing the State of Arkansas millions of dollars. As we have said for years: Marijuana may be many things, but “harmless” simply is not one of them.