As the czar of Colorado’s marijuana program, Barbara Brohl says she is neither pro- nor anti-pot.
But she believes the legal market for the drug is eating into the black market, funding drug abuse treatment and prevention and providing a safer product.
The roughly $200 million in tax revenue from more than $1 billion in sales last year funds all that, she says, plus provides $40 million for schools.
Brohl spoke Wednesday to a panel of Illinois lawmakers considering a proposal to make marijuana use legal in the state. While sponsors say the bill won’t get a vote this legislative session, they’re beginning a series of hearings on how to craft the law.
As proposed, the law would allow possession of up to one ounce of pot by people 21 and over. Driving under the influence would remain illegal, and smoking in public would be prohibited.
“Prohibition doesn’t work,” state Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, said. Taxing and regulating pot, she said, would create jobs and generate an estimated $350 million to $700 million a year in tax revenues for the debt-ridden state. [Read more at Chicago Tribune]