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Nashville Tennessean Columnist: Pot Could Be Great Source of Tax Revenue


June 1993

Nashville Tennessean columnist Larry Daughtrey thinks marijuana could be a terrific source of tax revenue and suggests that the state's General Assembly seriously consider the matter (Larry Daughtrey, "Creative Tax Thinking Has Gone To Pot," Nashville Tennessean, 5/2/93, No page).

"If the General Assembly could find something to save Tennessee's dwindling farms, cause tourism to explode, and produce tons of painless tax dollars, members would trample each other to pass it," writes Daughtrey. "Well, it's right under their nose, so to speak. It's too much for a devil's advocate to resist."

Daughtrey then takes a serious look at the state's estimated marijuana crop and its legalized potential. He notes that Tennessee destroyed 942,255 plants in 1992. The street value if harvested, he notes, would have been $2.3 billion. The state's leading legal crop, cattle, produces $497 million yearly, followed by dairy products at $303 million, soybeans at $192 million and tobacco at $182 million. Based on the $2.3 billion estimate, a modest 10 percent tax on marijuana would produce $230 million, four times that produced by tobacco.

Further, he writes, making pot legal would attract tourists "in numbers that would make Jack Daniels pale. And they'd be baby boomers, the cream of the market everyone is after." Of course, notes Daughtrey, the legislature will never consider doing this. "Instead, lawmakers are likely to launch some ill-conceived gambling scheme to get more tax money before facing up to the dreaded state income tax." He concludes: "Personally, I'd rather have stoned baby boomers and a Grateful Dead revival in town than the types likely to follow video poker, riverboat casinos and dog racing into Tennessee."

For NewsBriefs readers interested in writing, Daughtrey's address is: Nashville Tennessean, 1100 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203.