Report casts doubt on marijuana tax revenue

Advocates and opponents of legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin have made assertions that are contradicted by outcomes in states that have legalized medical marijuana, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Public Policy Forum.

The report, titled “Clearing the Air: Learning from Other States’ Medical Marijuana Laws,” found that states project too much revenue from legalization. If Wisconsin policymakers were to legalize medical marijuana, the report says revenue from potential taxation of the drug is unlikely to make a large impact on state finances.

The report recommends that Wisconsin lawmakers debate medical marijuana on its own merits, rather than in the context of aims such as boosting state coffers.

Thus far, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers proposed legalizing medical marijuana in his 2019–21 state budget, and some Republicans have expressed support for the passage of a medical marijuana law in separate legislation.