Republican state Senator will propose recreational marijuana as way to create needed pension revenue

10/04/2017 03:11 PM

With one of the worst funded pension systems in the entire nation in the commonwealth, Republican state Sen. Dan Seum says the need for new revenue could take the state higher, legally.

Seum, R-Fairdale, suggests legalizing marijuana could add badly needed new revenues to the state coffers totaling $100 million or more a year. The money represents an untapped stream of cash to pay down estimated unfunded liabilities ranging from $37 billion to $64 billion in the state pension systems.

“I think desperation might help — we need a billion dollars (a year),” Seum said of the chances of legalizing marijuana in Kentucky.

Legislative leaders expect their proposals to reform the state pension systems will be made public in the next 10 days, but those proposed tweaks are not expected to deal with revenue in a special session likely called this year.

Seum says he will propose legislation allowing adult use of cannabis in Kentucky before the 2018 regular session.

“I’m looking at adult use, because that’s where the money is at,” Seum said.

The upcoming session will mainly focus on crafting and passing a two-year state budget, and Seum thinks the need for money to address unfunded pensions will open the door to marijuana.

“Once we come out of the special session the governor is about to call, then we’re going to have a real, hopefully a real understanding of what the needs are when it comes to revenue,” he said.

Seum refers to marijuana legalization in Kentucky as a “jobs bill,” adding that Kentuckians should look no further than the bourbon industry to see the ancillary revenue that is generated from the industry.

Twenty-eight states have legalized some form of marijuana, and Seum says his bill will largely mirror what’s in place currently in Colorado, which approved legalized use by adults over 21 years old in 2012.

Seum said his son, Dan Seum Jr., visited Colorado this year to see how the 2012 legislation was written and what tweaks have been made in the years following passage, and that’s the model the Fairdale Republican will follow when he prefiles a bill later this year.

Jason Warf, political director of Alliance for Innovative Medicine, said that he thinks the market in Kentucky could be larger than what Colorado has seen, and thus more revenue could be expected.

“Obviously, it’s a time here in Kentucky where we need to look at our options,” Warf said.

Warf said that in Colorado dispensaries are licensed through the Department of Revenue and enforced by a self-funded marijuana enforcement division, a model he thinks Kentucky could duplicate with success.

Seum said he is also in favor of bringing in expanded casino gaming to the state in an effort to create as much new revenue as possible.

“As a legislator I’m not inclined to look at any kind of taxes, new taxes or additional taxes until we have explored the possibility of creating new monies,” he said.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

6 Comments

Comments

  • Ricky Lee Williams Jr. wrote on October 05, 2017 12:23 PM :

    Have it grown indoors at Murray St, Morehead St, and at the University of Kentucky. 25percent of grow revenue goes back for Higher Ed, 25percent into Pensions , 25percent to law enfrocement / public safety, 25percent back into general fund..Have it sold similar to Ohio’s ABC liquor laws. $150 million plus new revenue. Gambling market has already been saturated. I don’t see anything over $100 million per from that. License fees will be a one tme bump , which is OK , but not being explained correctly… RL

  • Ernest L Agee wrote on October 05, 2017 05:39 PM :

    If anyone that does not support this bill should be voted out of office. They would be costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands OF JOBS if they don’t support it. Colorado add 30,00 new jobs the first year after the legalization of marijuana. The unemployment rate in Colorado is now the lowest in all the 50 states after the legalization of marijuana.

  • Ernest L Agee wrote on October 05, 2017 05:39 PM :

    If anyone that does not support this bill should be voted out of office. They would be costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands OF JOBS if they don’t support it. Colorado add 30,00 new jobs the first year after the legalization of marijuana. The unemployment rate in Colorado is now the lowest in all the 50 states after the legalization of marijuana.

  • Ernest L Agee wrote on October 05, 2017 05:39 PM :

    If anyone that does not support this bill should be voted out of office. They would be costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands OF JOBS if they don’t support it. Colorado add 30,00 new jobs the first year after the legalization of marijuana. The unemployment rate in Colorado is now the lowest in all the 50 states after the legalization of marijuana.

  • Ernest L Agee wrote on October 05, 2017 05:40 PM :

    If anyone that does not support this bill should be voted out of office. They would be costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands OF JOBS if they don’t support it. Colorado add 30,00 new jobs the first year after the legalization of marijuana. The unemployment rate in Colorado is now the lowest in all the 50 states after the legalization of marijuana.

  • Ernest L Agee wrote on October 05, 2017 05:41 PM :

    If anyone that does not support this bill should be voted out of office. They would be costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands OF JOBS if they don’t support it. Colorado add 30,00 new jobs the first year after the legalization of marijuana. The unemployment rate in Colorado is now the lowest in all the 50 states after the legalization of marijuana.

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