William P. Wiggins
On National Weed Day, proponents of legalized marijuana gathered in cities throughout the country with much to celebrate. Great strides had been made in the past twenty plus years in getting states to relax marijuana restrictions, and momentum in the crowds was high to continue the push to bring marijuana legalization to all fifty states. In Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C. the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized, paving the way for new commercial markets that are expected to fill state coffers with revenue. In the coming year, several states are expected to follow suit. This paper looks beyond the lure of tax revenue to consider legalization’s real costs: sin taxes that regulate behavior, confusion as federal and state authorities seek to reconcile conflicting classifications of marijuana, the social costs of increased use, and the potential impact to America’s standing in the global community. Amidst the ever burgeoning levels of public support and outcry for the legalization of recreational marijuana, this paper is intended to serve as a voice for those issues that are sometimes overlooked in the public arena.