Eckstrom: Is taxing weed really the answer? – Olean Times Herald

Those reader polls the Times Herald posts on its website are not scientific by any means, but when more than 80 percent of about 850 respondents answer a certain way, that’s a significant collective statement.

And according to the poll, a majority of readers approve legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana in the state of New York.

Across the nation, the winds are blowing strongly in that direction as society reassesses its view of marijuana, from the burden it adds to the criminal justice system to its use for medicinal purposes. We’re throwing our hands up about pot and it’s only a matter of time before it is legalized in all states and taxed like tobacco and alcohol.

Make no mistake, legalized marijuana can and will destroy lives, just as quantities of perfectly legal tobacco and alcohol destroy lives — we would just be imprinting it with acceptability because it is regulated and it brings in tax revenues.

But this column is not really about my judgments regarding using weed.

What I will be interested to see is how well the regulatory and taxing process goes as more and more states — and one would guess, eventually, the federal government — make marijuana legal. The expectation is that hundreds of millions — maybe billions — of tax dollars will be raised, as is already happening in weed-legal states, while the supposed unclogging of criminal courts for marijuana-related violations also will represent cost savings for society.

But I’ve read how, in Colorado for example, where recreational pot is legal, the state was flooded with people who were eager to begin growing marijuana — for their own use as well as for selling it on the black market — and circumventing the official avenues legal, taxed weed is supposed to

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