Pump the brakes: Don’t jump onboard the marijuana hype train

In just a few weeks, Michiganders will go to the polls and vote on Proposal 18-1, which would allow individuals over the age of 21 to possess 140 joints, and use and sell marijuana candies, cookies, and other highly potent edibles and concentrates. This would be a major mistake that will impact our state for years to come.

Similar to many legalization efforts, it’s come to voters fast, with a lot of promises and few facts. This is the runaway train of the marijuana industry: push through legislation before people know the true implications of what it means to allow full-scale commercialization.

Pro-pot groups recently released a report on marijuana revenues, claiming the state would reap the benefits from “regulating” marijuana. But they got their math wrong. Pot legalization would cost Michigan much more than it would ever bring in — in the form of car crashes, school dropout rates, workplace problems and other issues.

Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, is still struggling to fund a massive budget deficit while the state’s education budget continues to be underfunded and schoolteachers have gone on strike.

In Illinois, one report projected economic and social costs of marijuana legalization would be $670.5 million, exceeding projected revenues by over 118 percent.

Expanded commercial pot products come with a cost.

In fact, as evidenced in other states, legalization of recreational marijuana will impose significant costs on taxpayers, resulting from workplace losses, car crashes, lost tourism revenue, administrative enforcement and a multitude of other issues.

Drug use and its consequences already cost U.S. taxpayers over $193 billion a year in lost productivity, health and safety costs. Companies in states such as Colorado are struggling to find employees who can pass drug tests. The picture for business isn’t pretty.

What’s worse? There are many more costs that can’t be quantified yet, including greater marijuana use among children, controlling an expanded black market, sales to minors, secondhand pot smoke and other issues.

The only one getting rich from this “social experiment” is the marijuana industry and its “people over profits” business model. State governments and society lose money whenever pot is legalized.

And this isn’t your parents’ marijuana, folks — there isn’t a cap on potency. If this passes, it means we’re dealing with high-potency marijuana and the effects and implications aren’t known.

Just last month, Healthy and Productive Michigan announced over 200 Michigan families, law enforcement, nonprofits, faith communities, substance abuse programs, young adults and senior citizens who are saying no to this measure.

Join me in protecting Michigan. Vote no against Proposal 18-1. It will cost us too much.

Brian Ellis is president of Brooktree Capital Management in Grand Rapids.

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