Is Growing More Pot the Answer to Louisiana’s Money Troubles?
Every few years it seems that somebody comes up with "the answer" to Louisiana's longtime financial troubles.
In 1990 it was the lottery and the promise of the best school system in the USA. Just a few years later we were sold on the idea of America's finest roads with millions and millions in casino cash.
Although not on so grand a scale, the recent sanctioning of sports gambling is another way to get more dollars in state coffers. And the newest way to give government more money? Marijuana. And the more the better.
Among the bills to be introduced at the next legislative session in Baton Rouge is Rep. Candice Newell’s plan increase the number of Louisiana's in-state cannabis suppliers to 10. As of now, just two are allowed to grow in the state, supplying only marijuana for medical use.
Newell's House Bill 125 would authorize Louisiana's Department of Agriculture and Forestry to license new growers, with a portion of those fees going for background checks on prospective suppliers. Newell says that she would also favor adding a tax and earmarking the allocation of those funds.
“Once recreational marijuana is made legal on a state level or it is made legal on a federal level, we won’t have to play catchup,” Newell told Louisiana Radio Network, looking not that far into the future, "I do want it to go into funding our sheriffs and police departments as well as early childhood education,”
The New Orleans rep adds that during the pandemic, when so many of Louisiana's major industries were shutdown or slowed, other states with already legalized cannabis were still making money. “We can (begin to) collect those funds as soon as the industry is legalized," she tells LRN, "You can’t keep taxing our citizens when we have industry that is available to implement care in the state,"