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Introduced Version House Concurrent Resolution 146 History

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HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 146

(By Delegates Manypenny and Doyle)

 

 

 

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance authorize a study on legalizing, taxing and regulating marihuana.

    Whereas, More than seven decades of arresting marihuana users has failed to prevent marihuana use; and

    Whereas, A study published in the American Journal of Public Health compared marihuana usage rates in the United States with rates in the Netherlands, where marihuana use and sales are de facto legal, and found "no evidence to support claims that criminalization reduces [marihuana] use”; and

    Whereas, More than one hundred million adults in the United States, including the last three presidents, have used marihuana and data from the 2010 Monitoring the Future Survey show that despite prohibition, more than eighty percent of twelfth graders find marihuana "fairly easy" or "easy" to obtain; and

    Whereas, The complete lack of marihuana market regulation ensures that marihuana production and distribution lies in the hands of unlicensed growers who are untaxed, unmonitored and often cultivate on state or federal lands; and

    Whereas, Marihuana is not controlled or regulated for safety concerns and distributors do not ask for identification; and

    Whereas, Marihuana has been the number one cash crop in the United States and West Virginia for two decades or more; and

    Whereas, The legal status of marihuana ensures that the black market economy reaps all profits leaving nothing in tax revenues for local and state governments while, at the same time, financially bolstering gang violence; and

    Whereas, More than thirty-four thousand people have been killed in drug cartel and crackdown-related violence since the beginning of the crackdown on cartels in Mexico in 2006 and, according to the Federal Office of National Drug Control Policy, sixty percent of drug cartel profits come from marihuana sales in the United States; and

    Whereas, In June, 2005, five hundred and thirty economists, including three Nobel laureates, endorsed a study on the costs of marihuana prohibition by Harvard Professor Dr. Jeffrey Miron which estimated that taxing and regulating marihuana would yield $10 to $14 billion in increased revenues and savings; and

    Whereas, Dr. Miron’s study called for "an open and honest debate about marihuana prohibition," adding, “[We] believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marihuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods"; and

    Whereas, The cost of incarceration for nonviolent drug status offenses is extraordinary, busting state and county budgets, and is contrary to the constitutional protection of liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the State motto, "Montani Semper Liberi", Mountaineers Are Always Free; and

    Whereas, Studies show that marihuana is not physically addictive nor does its use result in overdose deaths as is the case for alcohol, a taxed and regulated substance requiring proof of age for sale; and

    Whereas, The cannabis hemp plant has been used successfully in the manufacture of textiles, oils and medicine for thousands of years; and

    Whereas, Large markets currently exist for cannabis flowers, for the hemp stalk in industrial building, for marijuana seeds for oil and nutritional use, for the stalk in the creation of textiles and for the flowers in hugely effective medicinal use, all of which offer a beneficial tool in the resurgence of a healthy farming and manufacturing economy in West Virginia; and

    Whereas, There were more than eight hundred fifty-eight thousand arrests for marihuana offenses in the United States in 2009, nearly half the entire population of West Virginia; and

    Whereas, Just over eight thousand one hundred suspects were booked by federal law enforcement in 2004, about one percent of all marihuana arrests, demonstrating that nearly all marihuana arrests occur on the state level and, thus, state legislative action has the capacity to significantly change policy; and

    Whereas, Removing state criminal penalties for adults aged twenty-one and older who use or cultivate small amounts of marihuana, or who purchase from regulated providers, would allow law enforcement to spend more time preventing and investigating such serious crimes as murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs and would effect substantial savings immediately; and

    Whereas, States are not required to enforce federal law or to prosecute individuals for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law and may choose whether to impose state criminal penalties on conduct; therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance study the legalization, regulation and taxation of marihuana and the cannabis plant including, but not limited to, the following:

    (1) Potential revenues realized from the taxation of marihuana sales;

    (2) The economic benefits to the state through secondary business growth stemming from the legitimate sales of marihuana;

    (3) Revenues from the production of industrial hemp and the down stream industries created by the local availability of hemp;

    (4) The effects on incarceration rates, police resources, savings from ceasing eradication efforts, housing fewer prisoners and using fewer criminal justice resources otherwise used to arrest, prosecute and sentence individuals possessing or growing cannabis;

    (5) The reduction in methamphetamine, opiate and alcohol abuse; and

    (6) The effect on domestic violence; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2013, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

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