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Washington State expects $694 million in pot taxes in next five years

WATCH: Marc Emery debates the merits of marijuana legalization with Jill Krop on Unfiltered

Better than expected revenues from legalized marijuana in Washington State is making advocates in B.C. hopeful that legalization north of the border happens sooner rather than later.

“Do away with the crime costs, policing costs, the corrections costs, the judicial costs, and the human costs of suffering,” says former B.C. premier and Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh on Unfiltered today.

“All of that can be dealt with and you’ll be saving huge amounts of money, and making lots of money with tax revenue that you might collect.”

READ MORE: How would marijuana legalization work in Canada?

A revenue forecast released yesterday by Washington State shows that the industry is expected to bring in more than $694 million in state revenue through the middle of 2019. A previous forecast in September had that projection at about $636 million.

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The latest report shows that nearly $43 million from a variety of marijuana-related taxes — including excise, sales, and business taxes — is expected to be collected through the middle of next year.

About $237 million is expected for the next two-year budget that ends mid-2017, and $415 million more is expected for the 2017-19 budget biennium.

READ MORE: Buyers flock to Washington marijuana auction

In Colorado this month, the state legislature gave out $975,000 in grants from marijuana revenue to school districts looking to hire health workers.

“The best day of my life in jail was the morning after Colorado and Washington State legalized marijuana,” says marijuana advocate Marc Emery, who was recently released from U.S. prison after serving five years for selling cannabis seeds in the U.S.

“Two years later, it’s all gone so well that you’ve got Oregon, Washington D.C. and Alaska legalizing, and it’s hardly made a ripple.”

Ethan Nadelmann, the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, says the decision by voters in those three regions to approve legalization shows the transformation in public opinion on the issue.

“We’ll start to see state legislatures follow in the footsteps of these ballot initiatives,” he said.

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WATCH: Drug Policy Alliance executive director Ethan Nadelmann talks about the success of the marijuana legalization movement in the United States

But he says there’s no reason why Canada shouldn’t follow America’s lead.

“I’ve been going up to Vancouver on and off the last 20 years. I would routinely be telling people that Canada would be the first country in the world to legalize marijuana,” Nadelmann says.

“Canada is the only other country in the western hemisphere where you have a modest majority in favour of legalizing marijuana. There’s a majority, and your government is in the way.”

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