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West Virginia Looks to Legal Marijuana as a Solution to Budget Crisis

West Virginia Senator Ed Gaunch calls the financial condition of his state “an unprecedented financial crisis,” saying that during an extended special budget session legislators learned that the state needs an $271 million or more to balance the budget for the fiscal year 2017.

Delegate Mike Pushkin thinks that marijuana could help fill some large holes in generating revenue. With the support of several fellow delegates, Pushkin this week introduced a bill legalizing personal use, growing and possession of certain amounts of marijuana for people 21 and older.

“I just thought it was a good time to at least start talking about it, because we are in a financial crisis in this state,” Pushkin said Wednesday on Charleston’s “580 Live” in a conversation with radio show host and Charleston mayor Danny Jones. Pushkin added, “I don’t think it’s really that unrealistic considering other states have done it.”

In April, Pennsylvania joined the other 23 states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana. At this moment, a bill to legalize pot for treating specific diseases and conditions is on the desk of Ohio Governor John Kasich and North Carolina is back in talks to decriminalize medical cannabis, meaning shortly more than half the U.S. states could have legal marijuana in one shape or form.

Colorado is reportedly on track to pull in more than $140 million from marijuana sales in 2016 and Washington is forecast to rake in $270 million in marijuana sales this year. A recent report from the Tax Foundation estimates that federal, state and local governments are missing out on about $28 billion each year by not legalizing cannabis.

West Virginia recently turned to hemp, a twin plant of marijuana without the high levels of THC, to help the state. Even though hemp has thousands of known uses and was even named by Popular Science as the next billion-dollar crop way back in 1938, that plant has largely been banished alongside pot. The tide has shifted, though, with hemp seeds going into WV ground for the first time since World War II. West Virginia University is planting the seeds in a research study to see if the plant can purify contaminated brownfields previously deemed costly to clean up. After harvest, additional research will be conducted with the hemp.

Contrary to theses of many pot opponents, it’s looking more like cannabis in its different versions is actually a viable solution to many government issues.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

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