Adding up the green

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

First, a disclaimer: I used to smoke pot back in the ’60s and ’70s. During that time, I worked a 40-hour week, drove four hours per night to school, spent three hours a night in class and graduated with my Masters in six years. Like many at the time, I segued into the socially acceptable cigarette-and-alcohol mode. Remarkably, at the time, we all “knew pot would be legal within a few years.” Here we are decades later, and we’re still dealing with the absurdities of deciding what drugs adults can or can’t consume. I was just reading today that by May, Colorado had collected more than $88 million in marijuana taxes in 2015, without any increase in drug-related crime. I also read that our state government is scratching their collective heads trying to figure out how to increase taxes on gas and cars in order to rebuild our disgusting infrastructure, roads, highways and etc. California has more than seven times the population of Colorado. Simple math would indicate that if our state would simply follow Colorado’s lead and policies (thereby relieving the Fed’s attention to our businesses, and relieving the strain on our courts and jails), we should generate a total of $1.5 billion per year in tax revenues. For some reason, the puritans in our government balk at such a simple answer.

—John B. Egan

Thank you for reading my column. I agree with you, although I am not sure your numbers are correct. It is incredibly obvious that California could use some weed money, although I suspect the tax revenues might be a little lower than $1.4 billion. (I found a chart here: revenue.) But even $500 million, the total predicted by the chart, would go a long way to helping this great state of ours.

The question is, who is going to get the money? The cops and law enforcement will want a cut because they stand to lose a chunk of money if they can no longer arrest and jail and fine people for using cannabis. (They will also have to be less racist if they can’t harass minorities for pot, but I digress.) The schools need money, because California has its priorities effed up and we spend more money on prisons than we do on schools. And also, if you say the weed money will go to the schools, people will be more inclined to vote yes (we hope). I’m not sure if there will be any left over for roads. I feel like trucking companies and delivery services and petrochemical corporations should pay for the roads anyway, seeing as they need them the most.

But, whatevs. The Legislature can’t even get it together enough to pass medical cannabis legislation (Assembly Bills 266 and 243 are still in limbo, and getting worse as we go along), so I have no faith in its ability to pass recreational regulations. Thank Jah for the initiative process. Maybe the people can pass a good law in 2016.