Perhaps Georgia Should Just Legalize Marijuana

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Less than a year after Republican voters in Georgia definitively rejected the idea of casino gambling in Georgia on their ballots, Georgia’s Republican legislators have begun slowly stacking the deck in favor of a casino in downtown Atlanta.

At a recent hearing, the opponents of casino gambling were invited then they were prohibited from testifying.

In fact, a plethora of studies not paid for by casino gambling interests have shown casinos do not do the economic good they claim. In fact, states like Louisiana, Illinois, and even New Jersey with Atlantic City are not getting the economic benefits promised by lobbyists for casinos.

But what study after study after study shows is that the areas immediately around casinos do see an increase in burglary, drugs, prostitution, bankruptcy, and addiction. In fact, casinos do not so much add to the economy as they redirect people’s money into the casinos and away from other activities.

Georgia’s Republican legislators, however, probably already accepting casino interest campaign contributions, are willing to ignore the data for cash in their own pockets and the optimistic forecasts of lobbyists willing to ignore outside data. More importantly, it is because Republicans in Georgia have no new ideas to lower costs of education in Georgia and are desperate to fund the HOPE Scholarship.

Maybe they should try legalizing recreational marijuana instead.

We now have a few years of data in Colorado and elsewhere. There has not been a dramatic spike in crime. There has not been a dramatic spike in addiction. There has not been a dramatic spike in prostitution. There has not been a dramatic spike in bankruptcies. But what there has been is a substantial increase in tax revenue — something casinos have not delivered on.

If Georgia’s legislature is going to ignore its voters who have already said they don’t want a casino, they might as well push forward with marijuana legalization. They’ll see less of a spike in crime, a reduction in incarceration rates, and a bigger pool of new tax dollars than they would with a casino.

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Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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